On Tuesday night, Game of Thrones star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau took to the stage at the Brooklyn Expo Center in front of a crowd of excited fans. But the actor wasn’t even the main attraction—in fact, he was just the referee.
The UNDP Global Ambassador used his star power to shine a spotlight on the Global Girls World Cup, a women’s soccer tournament that raises awareness and funds for the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which range from gender equality to climate change. Those happen to be two initiatives close to Coster-Waldau’s heart.
“I picked those two to find a personal connection,” the actor told InStyle at an intimate lunch before the tournament kicked off. “I have two daughters. I grew up with my two older sisters, my mom. I’ve been surrounded by women my whole life. There are still a lot of issues to be dealt with when it comes to gender equality, but we’re not facing the same obstacles like most of the world is facing. More than 150 countries have legislation that discriminates against women.”
Coster-Waldau has two teenage daughters, and hopes his involvement as a global ambassador will teach them “an awareness of the world around them.”
“The world is very big, but we’re also very connected and we all have responsibilities,” he told us. Those responsibilities, in his opinion, also have to do with protecting the world from climate change. “We are very close to a tipping point and there’s no way back. We have to take it seriously,” the actor said.
“If you don’t believe it—if you could just entertain the idea that maybe—what if you’re wrong? Take out the insurance. Because, yeah, what’s the worst that can happen? You’re going to get clean air. You’re going to get clean water. You’re going to get a lot of benefits. If you don’t and you’re wrong, we’re all screwed.”
Combating climate change needs to be a worldwide effort, and for Coster-Waldau, sports are a great way of making those global connections. “You look for things that can cross borders. Art can do that, music, sometimes what I can do can do that. Game of Thrones has become a global thing. But I think sports are the things that always connects people.”
VIDEO: Behind the Scenes with Our Man of Style, Game of Thrones Bad Boy Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
Fashion, too, has a way of crossing borders. That’s why Ditte and Nicolaj Reffstrup of cool-girl brand Ganni have teamed up with the Global Goals World Cup as well. Along with sending a team of social media influencers to compete in the tournament (and raise awareness on their own channels), the brand created a limited-edition T-shirt with 100 percent of the proceeds supporting the soccer tournament, with a focus on gender equality. The $65 tee (below) is available online for customers in Europe and at the Office Newsstand at Canal Street Market in N.Y.C.
“Especially working in an industry that’s full of powerful women, it felt very natural for us to pick up gender equality as a goal,” Nicolaj told InStyle. For Ditte, who played soccer throughout her youth, sports are a great equalizer. “When we played on the soccer team, there were no boundaries. It was just who you were on that field, and that’s an important lesson to learn. We’re all the same, even outside of the field. We’re all equal.”
The theme fits in with Ganni’s latest collections called Love Society and Global Citizen, because “the world is in need of a little love,” they said. “I love to work with topics and turn them into something beautiful and fun. That’s what you can do with fashion. It’s a place where you can play around.”
Model Nadja Bender, a longtime Ganni girl, is one of many influencers who quickly jumped on to support the “good cause” and play a scoring role on the Ganni team.
InStyle also sent a team of staffers (above) to compete in the tournament on behalf of the global goal of quality education for all. Decked out in Tory Sport, the InStyle Educators joined teams from around the world in a soccer tournament that was less about winners and losers than it was about creating one truly global team.