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Cultivating Climate Conscious Football

It could be coming home, but is this the question we should really be asking of the EUROs? Cerys Deakin explores climate conscious approaches to this year’s tournament and investigates how a new perspective could be possible.

Pic Credit:  jarmoluk via Pixabay 

The EUROs have dominated our screens since its opening match on the 14th of June, with players such as Jude Bellingham, Jack Grealish and John Stones the stars of numerous advertising campaigns. England have even flown through the group stages and now excitingly enter the next stage of the tournament.

2022 FIFA World Cup England VS USA. Pic Credit: Hossei Zohrevand via Wikimedia Commons 

Football is notoriously harmful for its impacts on our climate. With high water and energy usage the main consequences of matches, there are also the effects of fans travelling hundreds, if not thousands of miles. The dedicated fans that travel worldwide to attend these matches generate huge carbon emissions through means of transport, and this is even excluding the influence of catering and merchandising associated with both small and largescale tournaments.

Resultingly, there are arguments about who is actually responsible for reducing these associated impacts, and who can make change. Is it the responsibility of the fans, to approach the tournaments with more sustainable mindsets? Or, is it the responsibility of vendors, stadium managers and facility operators to provide more sustainable events and venues? Generally, climate consciousness isn’t approached in a formal or planned manner throughout the game. However, UEFA is now striving to make strides with their new climate agenda strategy for EURO 2024.

UEFA EURO 2024 Logo. Pic Credit: Union of European Football Championship via Wikimedia Commons

In the implementation of this new strategy, €32 million has been pledged in hopes of achieving eighteen major targets laid out in the strategic plan. Working towards these aptly named goals has involved changes such as alterations to match scheduling, incentives for the use of public transport and monitoring of carbon footprints. Alongside these efforts, additions and alterations were made to stadiums with hopes of maximising energy and water efficiency, and moving towards sustainable infrastructure. Wherever there is resource wastage, there are also efforts to adopt a circular economy approach following a ‘4R principle’ – reduce, reuse, recycle and recovery.

LTU Arena, Düsseldorf Arena, Stadium in EURO 2024. Pic Credit: Ghermezete via Wikimedia Commons

Whilst there have been many different physical approaches to improving climate consciousness, there has also been acknowledgement of the importance of social approaches too. UEFA has identified that social and governing factors are essential in improving and enhancing the sustainability of tournaments like EURO 2024. For example, there has been great focus on the accessibility of knowledge for all, to enhance the ‘learning by sharing’ approach. Following these holistic approaches, there is the aim that the successes, and failings, of new methods and approaches can be shared, as to better inform future maintenance and event planning solutions in a sustainable way.

There has been improvement in efforts to reduce the  impacts of football on climate change, and an important part of the strategy involves acknowledging the ‘unavoidable impacts’ of a tournament of this scale. In doing so, UEFA have created the climate fund, involving the investment and distribution of funds across amateur German football clubs. This is done with the hope that this will provide incentive and encouragement for smaller clubs to cultivate more climate conscious approaches to events.

The integration of these conscious approaches into the planning and management of an event of this scale, marks a significant change in the history of sporting events. The hope is that this momentum can be pushed into the future, to enhance the sustainability of all events and reduce their anthropogenic effects on climate and wildlife. 

About the author: Cerys Deakin is an MSci Zoology student, at the University of Exeter, Penryn Campus. During her time at university, Cerys has had the opportunity to explore climate, wildlife and sustainability on various scales and has found passion for sharing her knowledge and interests with others. She is an integrated member of the team at The Civet Project, and a senior contributor at WILD. To browse all of her pieces check out her profile, and to see her skills find her LinkedIn here. Cerys also has a huge interest in wildlife photography, which you can check out here.

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