Roger Federer has responded to the controversy surrounding his partnership with Credit Suisse after Greta Thunberg added her voice to the criticism.
Federer has been targeted by climate activists in recent times because of his sponsorship arrangement with the Swiss banking giants, who invest heavily in fossil fuels.
‘UTTER MADNESS’: De Minaur stuns with 'insane' display against Nadal
A dozen Swiss activists appeared in court on Tuesday after refusing to pay a fine for playing tennis inside branches of Credit Suisse last year in a stunt intended to highlight the bank’s fossil fuel investments and “stop people acting like nothing is happening”.
Video footage from 2018 shows students dressed in tennis whites playing matches inside Credit Suisse branches in Lausanne and Geneva to underscore Federer’s sponsorship deal with the bank, which they want him to drop.
The hashtag #RogerWakeUpNow began trending on Twitter, while several activists outside the courtroom held banners saying, "Crédit Suisse is destroying the planet. Roger, do you support them?"
Thunberg then retweeted a post from 350.org Europe claiming Credit Suisse had given $US57 billion to companies looking for new fossil fuel deposits.
“Roger Federer do you endorse this?” the tweet read.
Since 2016 @CreditSuisse has provided $57 BILLION to companies looking for new fossil fuel deposits - something that is utterly incompatible with #ClimateAction @RogerFederer do you endorse this? #RogerWakeUpNow pic.twitter.com/ED1fIvb4Cr
— 350.org Europe (@350Europe) January 8, 2020
On Saturday, Federer issued a statement addressing his partnership with Credit Suisse.
“I take the impacts and threat of climate change very seriously, particularly as my family and I arrive in Australia amidst devastation from the bushfires,” a statement from Federer said.
“As the father of four young children and a fervent supporter of universal education, I have a great deal of respect and admiration for the youth climate movement, and I am grateful to young climate activists for pushing us all to examine our behaviours and act on innovative solutions. We owe it to them and ourselves to listen.
“I appreciate reminders of responsibility as a private individual, as an athlete and as an entrepreneur, and I’m committed to using this privileged position to dialogue on important issues with my sponsors.”
But according to Simon Briggs of the UK Telegraph: “Federer’s response to Thunberg and company contained plenty of words without making the slightest commitment to changing his relationship with Credit Suisse.”
Federer joins rally for bushfire relief
Federer, Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams are among a number of players who will feature in an exhibition match ahead of this month's Australian Open to raise funds for bushfire relief efforts.
All funds raised from the two-and-a-half hour event on January 15 at Rod Laver Arena will be donated to the relief cause, with tickets priced at $54.
"This unprecedented bushfire crisis is devastating people, properties, communities, livestock and animals across the country and our hearts go out to all those affected," Tennis Australia CEO and tournament Director Craig Tiley said.
"We felt it was vital we use all our events across the summer to make a meaningful contribution to help these people and communities rebuild their lives.
"The response from the tennis community... has been overwhelming. The world's top players, boasting many Grand Slam titles between them, have committed to AO Rally for Relief."
The event is part of the Aces for Bushfire Relief program, in which Tennis Australia is donating $100 for every ace served at the ATP Cup in Brisbane, Perth and Sydney.
Many players have also pledged individually, with French Open champion Ash Barty donating her Brisbane International prize money to the cause.
Nick Kyrgios promised to donate $200 for every ace he serves this month while NBA great Dirk Nowitzki said he would match the Australian's donation.