Tennis: Roger Federer defends sponsorship deal after criticism from climate change activist

Greta Thunberg was among those to have hit out at Roger Federer.
Greta Thunberg was among those to have hit out at Roger Federer. Photo credit: Getty

Tennis star Roger Federer has defended his sponsorship deal with Swiss bank Credit Suisse, after a barrage of criticism from climate activists, including Greta Thunberg.

Thunberg was among those who retweeted a challenge to Federer over his ties to the bank, which invests heavily in fossil fuels.

"@RogerFederer do you endorse this?" was the last line of the tweet from Europe - an activist group named after the upper limit of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that scientists believe would be safe.

The hashtag #WakeUpRoger began trending on Twitter this week, after 12 Swiss activists appeared in court for refusing to pay fines incurred, when they staged a publicity stunt in November 2018, playing tennis in whites inside various branches of Credit Suisse to highlight Federer's relationship with the bank.

Federer, who will play an exhibition on January 15 in Melbourne to raise funds for the Australian bushfires, felt it necessary to release a statement, vowing to discuss "important issues" with his sponsors.

"I take the impacts and threat of climate change very seriously, particularly as my family and I arrive in Australia amid devastation from the bush fire," Federer told Reuters.

"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 my 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."

Credit Suisse also responded: "Combating global warming is important. Credit Suisse respects freedom of expression as a fundamental democratic right.

"[However,] to protect its clients, employees and branches, it does not tolerate unlawful attacks on its branches, irrespective of the perpetrators and their motives."