Jun 06, 2009
Delegates from 182 countries are in Bonn discussing key negotiating texts which can serve as the basis for critical climate talks in Copenhagen this December. Sam fleet from Friends of the Earth Europe and also a member of the Young Friends of the Earth Europe movement (Young FoEE) is there.
The hour had finally arrived for the UNFCCC football match. I still maintained that it was some sort of elaborate prank, but considered that the worst case would be an opportunity for some informal lobbying. However, I could not have been more wrong. I arrived at the meeting point and was greeted by a selection of delegates and NGO workers all kitted out in shorts and running shoes, a box of beer and a rather shiny trophy. Game on.
We shuttled down to the UNFCCC Headquarters to meet the UN Secretariat team, who had been warming up for the last half hour. Spirits were high in the NGO camp; a chance to release any pent up frustration from the talks. There was little time for tactical discussions or stretching, although this was what we all needed after a week of inactivity and sleep deprivation. We split into two teams, roughly NGO and delegates, and I found myself on the ‘Greenpeace Team’ alongside five Greenpeace delegates, including, with everyone whispering in excitement, “one from Brazil”. I campaigned to have us renamed the ‘NGO Team’, but majority ruled in the team of nine.
A very messy game
With raw herring from lunch still brewing in my stomach I took to the field. The game kicked off before we’d even nominated a keeper and 20 minutes of schoolyard football commenced. The Lesotho delegate in goal let a soft shot slip through his hands and roll across the line within five minutes, and the Brazilian tripped on the ball and twisted his ankle within seven. I had two breaks on goal and the only shot on target but failed to equalise, and after a heavy 50-50 challenge in the second half one of the Secretariat team members told me, in very un-diplomatic terms, that he’d “mess me up”. The game remained in deadlock until the end. The disgruntled Greenpeace team ‘borrowed’ the trophy and declared moral victory.
The next team took to the field, including Kuni Shimada, from the Japanese Ministry of Environment and the game quickly descended into chaos. Shimada left the field after one minute over confusion about untied shoelaces, the keeper took a goal kick from his hands, and the Secretariat scored a lot of goals.
The final match between the NGOs and delegates was a humourous affair, with further confusion for Shimada, who unsure whether to take a corner or a throw appeared to do something akin to both at the same time. A controversial penalty decision saw the Greenpeace delegates up in arms over the injustice, followed by bickering over the position of the penalty spot, until it was decided the player who would take the penalty “was a girl”, with the ref moving the spot closer. She smashed it into the top left corner.
They think it’s all over…
Further confusion broke out later when someone mistook “first substitution” for “perverse regulations” and the game finally ended in victory for Greenpeace with smiles all around. The trophy was returned to the rightful owners (UN Secretariat), and a surprisingly sincere speech about something about climate change followed. Then we all drank beer…