Pro footballer joins Greens from Labour

Professional footballer, Russell Martin, has joined the Green Party after voting Labour all of his adult life. Upon meeting Green MP Caroline Lucas, Martin decided to join a political party whose environmental ethos mirrored his own.

Kate Nicholson

Professional football player, Russell Martin, has joined the Green Party after voting Labour all his life.

A former Scotland defender and Walsall player-coach, Martin has become increasingly environmentally conscious since turning vegan in 2014, and is now calling on other football players and clubs to be more proactive in reducing their impact on the environment.

He recently met with former Green Party Co-leader and Brighton MP Caroline Lucas to discuss the work of his charity, the Russell Martin Foundation, which aims to use football to engage young children from deprived backgrounds in Brighton. By backing the Greens, Martin hopes to help the party in its ambitions to become the third-biggest party in England.

He said: “I’ve voted Labour all my life – but knowing Caroline, what she stands for and what the party represents, I decided joining the Greens aligns with my values and morals.”

Whilst initially choosing to become vegan due to health reasons, Martin now co-owns Erpingham House, a plastic free, vegan restaurant situated in Norwich. In his day to day life, Martin drives an electric car and promotes sustainability to the young people he works with through his charity.

Lucas commented: “Russell does incredible work with the community in Brighton, so I’m immensely proud to welcome him in the Green Party. So many football clubs do great work to get young people into sport and improve their health and happiness, but too often they forget about protecting the environment our futures all depend on.

“Premier League clubs should take inspiration from players like Russell by greening their stadiums and rejecting sponsorship deals with climate-wrecking corporations.”

Martin explained in greater detail how he is attempting to implement stronger attitudes towards sustainability through both young and professional footballers.

He said: “At the Russell Martin Foundation we’re working towards creating a community hub to give more opportunities to kids from deprived areas, and we’re building sustainability into that – like Forest Green Rovers on a much smaller scale. [Forest Green Rovers is the world’s first fully vegan football club.]

“But I think Premier League clubs should be doing a lot more for the environment. It tends to be bottom of their priority list – but they need to be more socially conscious and make sure they’re cutting down on disposable plastic bottles, reducing their energy use and getting their money out of fossil fuels.”