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This Time For The World: Football For The Environment

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Football players of the Chelsea Football Club lifting the 2021 UEFA Champions League Trophy, which is arguably one of the most prestigious trophy in the sport.
Football players of the Chelsea Football Club lifting the UEFA Champions League Trophy, arguably one of the most prestigious trophy in the sport

Photo by Pierre-Philippe Marcou [11]

 

Among the myriad sports in existence, football (or soccer in America) is without a doubt the most popular sport in the world, with a history that spanned possibly millennia, and a player base of over 200 countries [1][2]. Football's transcendent level of popularity today is mostly thanks to the loyal fans of the sport, who are ready to crowd en-masse for every match, whether in nearby public spaces or by traveling to watch the game live in the hosting stadium. Whenever such actions of global proportions occur, an equally large reaction is always expected to follow, however, what might not be always expected is that these impacts are environmentally-based.


In reality, football, or rather the logistics of preparing and running a football match does play a part in the ever-worsening ecological condition of our planet. Large amounts of energy are used in creating football kits and merchandise, in the transportation of players and supporters, and in the maintenance of the football fields and stadiums. Adding to this is the literal tons of waste left behind by the players, the supporters, and the various food, beverage, and other ‘enterprises’ in every match [3].

A football stadium filled with plastic and other trashes after a football match
The disgusting condition of a football stadium after a football match

Photo by S. Paulsen [12]

 
 

Football isn’t the only culprit in this, as all professional sports that are played in large arenas also have a similarly significant ecological footprint. For example, the total one-day carbon emissions that are directly or indirectly released by the commencement of the ‘2005 Super Bowl’ match of the American Football sport nearly amounted to 1 million tons, which is more than the yearly emissions of 2 natural gas-based power plants [4][5]. While these sports consume just a sliver of a nation’s energy and only produce a small fraction of its waste and carbon emissions, the effects can be felt nonetheless. Many in the game are starting to recognize football’s impact on climate change, and so the question now becomes: “Can we make it greener?”


The answer to that would be “Yes, but”, as there are many challenges that are working against environmental sustainability, such as the conflict between the commercial objectives of the football clubs and the desire to protect the environment [6]. Despite this, there are already a few football clubs and players, as well as football-related organizations and companies that are already promoting a greener football. One great example is the Forest Green Rovers football club, which is the world’s first UN-certified carbon-neutral football club, and their ecologically-exciting partnership with football kit supplier company PlayerLayer, which is known for creating durable kits made from environmentally-responsible sources [7][8]. Additionally, many football stadiums around the world are also being constructed or modernized with environmental sustainability in mind [9][10].

"The Fully Charged New Lawn", the environmentally-green, organic, and award-winning football field of the Forest Green Rovers football club

Photo by Forest Green Rovers FC [13]

 

As the world inches closer to the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the fans of the beautiful game should follow the upcoming fixtures with a green mindset. For example, you can bring your own foods and drinks and put them in reusable containers rather than buying them on-site, which often used single-use containers. Traveling fan groups from nearby locations can depart together in public transportations rather than each going on their own, which will reduce carbon emissions. We must understand that few other human practices are as globally liked and impactful as football, and thus a change in the priority of the sport can lead to a change in the priority of the world. If the world of football can work more on their attacks against climate change, then perhaps there is still hope for humanity to win this match that will decide the future of the beautiful game and the world.

 

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Sources:

[1] Murray, Scott. 2010. Football For Dummies. John Wiley & Sons, England


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