The findings of GreenCoach Project, co-founded by the European project Erasmus + and lead by the consultancy Ecoserveis, show that the current transport model is the main cause of the high environmental footprint of football events.
In the framework of the GreenCoach project co-founded by the Erasmus + program, from January to May 2021, Sant’Anna University (Italy) lead a study in 5 European countries and 22 UEFA Federation’s sport clubs. The scope of the study assessed, under the method called Life Cycle Analysis, the environmental footprint of the products of a single football match. The analysis considered the following:
- Water and energy consumption derived from the use of the facilities for the football match (i.e., irrigation, lighting, showers for the players, heating of the changing rooms …).
- The sports equipment, namely, the production and end of life of clothing and equipment (shoes, T-shirt, shorts, other sportswear, balls, bags …).
- The production and end of life of waste materials derived from the football match (paper, plastic, glass, metal, wastewater …).
- The transport of the players to the football field (local team and visiting team).
- The transport of the public attending the match (local team and visiting team).
Given the most relevant phases of the life cycle of the products and services involved in a football match of the clubs of the federations, transport is the category that contributes the most to the environmental impact. The second position in terms of environmental impact corresponds to the sports equipment such as sneakers or soccer balls, followed by the use of electricity and water and the management of waste and packaging of products. The following table shows the environmental impact based on the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF):
Source: GreenCoach (www.greencoacherasmus.eu)
So, what can sports clubs do?
One of the main actions that can be carried out is urban planning. Therefore, it is necessary to establish a collaboration between public administration and sports centers. Collaboration can help the planning of the sustainable urban development of cities and can enable the availability of public and subsidized transportation to events where the use of private transportation is currently required. In this sense, alternative infrastructures and transport options are needed. For example, the Amsterdam Arena offers discounted train tickets to fans with the aim of reducing car use. In the same spirit, the German Football Association has demanded that almost all Bundesliga and second Bundesliga match tickets entitle the holder to a free return trip by public transport.
In addition, cities and sports centers can promote car-sharing practices by creating specific and safe applications that are available to the public. Another option is the creation of a bicycle lane system and an electric bicycle system that should provide citizens with parking spaces near stadiums or sports centers.
Finally, an awareness campaign is key to promoting sustainable transportation options. For example, the Amsterdam Arena has created a mobility portal to provide transport information to fans. All travel options have a CO2 label, which helps the citizen to detect the most sustainable option.
This article has been created thanks to the information available in “Report of the survey for the assessment of the level of environmental awareness” and “Report of the environmental footprint for the baseline scenario” that will be accessible in https://www.greencoacherasmus.eu
For more information on how to create sustainable sporting events you can send an email to Ecoserveis, email@example.com, European project coordinators on energy, climate change and sustainable mobility