When most people think of John Green, they usually go right to his books, which have recently seen successful film adaptations.
But, there is one thing many casual John Green fans may not know: he loves soccer. He loves it so much in fact that the YouTube channel Hankgames, originally a gaming channel started by his brother Hank, is almost entirely comprised of videos in which John Green plays FIFA. What started out as Green playing while discussing topics from how he got engaged to answering questions from Google autofill has evolved into something much more than anyone could have hoped. In a 2013 video titled “Our Strangest Project Yet?” Green announced that he would no longer be playing semi-professional FIFA in order to support his family.
The caveat to this however, was that Green would now play FIFA as AFC Wimbledon and subsequently all the proceeds made from advertising revenue would go directly to the actual team. In his video, Green said he did this because, “It’s the most awesome football club in the world, and I want to help them stay in the league.”
Now what makes AFC Wimbledon worth sending 12 cents for every ad clicked on during a video of a world famous author playing a video game? Well, as Green explains, the team is entirely owned by its fans. Meaning that anyone who buys a piece of the Dons Trust, the non-profit organization that owns the team, they become an equal shareholder and own just as much of the team as its manager Neil Ardley. Additionally, AFC Wimbledon was also the first professional soccer team to have a football fans against homophobia banner in their stadium.
So why does the team need the ad revenue from Green’s videos? In English soccer, there are nine tiers, four of which are professional. At the end of every season, the top teams in each tier move up, and the lowest move down to the lower leagues. Currently, AFC Wimbledon is in the fourth tier, confusingly named League Two, which means that every season there’s a chance the team could get demoted to the amateur leagues. With the support of the ad revenue, Green is able to help the team grow and improve to hopefully one day make it to the Premier League. Aside from the community that watches the videos, Nerdfighteria, supporting the team through ad clicks, Green himself has become a sponsor of the team. He has become such a large benefactor that the what had formerly been known as the North Stand at Kingsmeadow, where AFC Wimbledon plays, is now known as the John Green Stand.
In an age where corruption in sports is rampant, most notably with FIFA’s Sepp Blatter, it’s nice to see a professional team that is owned by its fans, and truly makes the sport about the community and not about the money. It’s unknown if any other soccer team will go the direction of AFC Wimbledon and be completely and equally fan owned, but one thing is certain: John Green will support the hell out of them.
John Green’s Video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pxAmFy3Wjd8
AFC Wimbledon Website: http://www.afcwimbledon.co.uk/
The Dons Trust Website: http://thedonstrust.org/