CUP26 – The Biggest Game Ever

Building a team to create the biggest ever football campaign on climate change

September 2021 sees the launch of CUP26, a nationwide project that we’ve been working hard on over the last few months with our partners at Count Us In and Planet Super League, along with Sky, the Premier League and the UK Government. It’s the biggest climate related action ever taken by football in the UK, and comes alongside a growing movement to use the power of football to lead on climate change around the world.

Over half the professional teams in England are signed up, from Premier League giants to lower league favourites. They all have a chance to win the same prize over the next two months, as players can sign up to represent their team and then score goals in matches by taking green actions. CUP26 has just launched with an event at Wembley stadium, and will be followed by the first ever net-zero carbon Premier League game in October and a national day of action shortly afterwards. 

At Something More Near we’ve been leading the work to bring these amazing partners together under one clear story and a set of actions that players can take, along with a fresh visual identity to bring it all to life. We’ve worked with schoolchildren to find out more about what they really care about and hear their creative ideas on how this competition ought to work. We’ve helped a team from a broad range of industries to share resources and tell a clear story across all their different platforms. And we’ve commissioned creative work from some fantastic artists around the world to bring the tournament to life. For anyone approaching a similar challenge, we wanted to share a few important things we learned along the way. 

Saving football for the big moments
The big opportunity with CUP26 was to use the massive reach of football teams and the familiar rituals of being a football supporter to get people taking actions on climate. However this didn’t mean just talking about football all the time. As we talked to our target audiences, we quickly found that football was just one part of the appeal and that finding a way that would appeal to the super-fans as much as the casual supporters was vital. Emphasising the family, fun and educational nature of the event was equally important so as to engage as many people as possible. 

One simple ask
CUP26 is also a project that will span across ages and be distributed to schools across the UK, making its way on to time-pressed teachers and parents. When designing the tournament structure, main messaging and campaign, it was crucial to keep the barriers to participation as low as possible. In CUP26 you can commit as much as you want, and there are clear rewards for those who want to do more. For those who want to make the deep dive there’s plenty to explore but for others there are simple ways to feel a part of the event. At its heart CUP26 has a super simple ask for everyone - Find your team and score green goals!

Tools that everyone can use
For such a mass participation event, it was also important that we create flexible tools that people would be able to make their own and feel unconstrained in adapting to their own circumstances. Across teacher resources, promotional materials, and brand assets, we have created a set of materials that can be used and re-mixed as much as needed. We can’t wait to see what gets made as the tournament gets going.

CUP26 is live now for schools, pupils and families to sign up and play. Your team needs you!