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A Dirty Game

VIDEO: Greenpeace ‘fills stadium with oil’ to call out sportswashing at Rugby World Cup
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
A Dirty Game

Greenpeace has released a hard-hitting new video calling out a major oil and gas company’s sponsorship of the Rugby World Cup.

The animation depicts a torrent of oil raining down on the Stade De France – where the first match between France and New Zealand takes place next week – covering players and spectators in black hydrocarbon.

A ban on fossil fuel sponsorship

Together with production company Studio Birthplace, Greenpeace created the film to call for a complete ban on fossil fuel advertising and sponsorship of major sporting events like the Rugby World Cup 2023, which this year is sponsored by French energy giant TotalEnergies.
Greenpeace has previously been outspoken about so-called sportswashing – when companies use sponsorship of major sports events to tarnish their image and distract from their impacts on the environment.

It has criticised the Manchester United FC takeover bid by oil and chemicals giant INEOS – also incidentally the sponsor of the All Blacks rugby team. 

Distraction from climate destruction

The global fossil fuel industry extracts enough oil to fill a stadium like the Stade De France every 3 hours and 37 minutes, less than the time it takes to play three (80 minute) rugby matches.

This pace of production could fill almost seven stadiums every 24 hours.

‘Integrity, passion, solidarity, discipline and respect. Those are rugby values. But fossil fuel companies like TotalEnergies piggyback those values by sponsoring popular sports events like the Rugby World Cup, to distract everyone from their climate destruction. Meanwhile, fossil fuel companies won’t stop extracting fossil fuels – even though they know it’s jeopardising a liveable future for us all – because they like the record-breaking profits they’re making.’

Campaigner at Greenpeace France

The video

The video features mock commentary from Irish comedian and actor Seán Burke.

In slapstick fashion, the animated video shows oil spilling out of TotalEnergies logos dotted around the stadium, comically knocking over the rugby players and fans in their seats, who are represented by mannequins.

The final 10 seconds of the video feature footage of real climate destruction caused by the fossil fuel industry.


‘We’re way past the point where sponsorship by fossil fuel companies should be acceptable. Their cute graphics and friendly animations are just a calculated attempt to maintain the status quo and extend a deadline that ran out years ago. Make no mistake, the temperature rising is fine by them as long as the profits do too.’

Irish comedian and actor

Rugby values

TotalEnergies’ Chairman and CEO Patrick Pouyanné said when the sponsorship was announced: ‘Integrity, passion, solidarity, discipline and respect are key features of this sport, and they match our company’s values […] more importantly, rugby is organised first and foremost around a team, just like TotalEnergies: a collective of women and men committed to the energy transition.’
Not only is it not true that fossil fuel companies are genuinely committed to a transition to renewable energy – as revealed in another Greenpeace report released last week – but these sponsorships are a strategic pillar in their plans to continue and even expand operations to extract more oil and gas. 

‘We want a complete ban on fossil fuel advertising and sponsorship of major sporting events. It benefits no one but fossil fuel companies, and deliberately distracts everyone from the environmental destruction they cause and the communities they harm. For a safer and fairer world, we must end the fossil fuel era, starting with climate-wrecking new fossil fuel projects, before it’s too late.’

Campaigner at Greenpeace France

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