New guide seeks to improve environmental management of football matches

New guide seeks to improve environmental management of football matches

European Union-backed project, supported by European football associations and UEFA, demonstrates best environmental practice related to governance and operations

A set of guidelines related to the environmental management of football matches has been published by a consortium comprised of an academic institution, national football associations and sustainability-focused organisations.

The Tackle guidelines have been split into two areas: governance and operations – the latter of which is further broken down into five sub-categories (context of event, event, stadium management, procurement, mobility and logistics).

Within each of these categories, the guidelines present areas of best practice and demonstrate how they can be achieved using related case studies. Each guideline details the environmental and economic benefits of each policy, as well as applicability and replicability potential.

One of the governance guidelines, for example, is to integrate greenhouse gas emissions offsetting for football matches and events. 

UEFA’s work for Euro 2016 – in which it contributed €200,000 to a renewable energy project in New Caledonia to offset the emissions of the tournament – was demonstrated as an example of best practice. The guideline also presented the environmental benefits of such a policy (the reduction of CO2 emissions), the economic benefit to the organisation (the improvement of corporate reputation for hosting a carbon-neutral event), and the applicability and replicability of the policy (the practice can be applied in any country and for any event).

Other governance guidelines include: developing an economic and environmental cost-benefit analysis, sustainability and legacy reporting, stakeholder engagement, creating environmental awareness campaigns, and hiring an environmental manager or environmental committee.

Operational guidelines include: metropolitan environmental assessment (context of event), environmental training for volunteers, separate waste collection, water refill stations, food donation (event), engaging fans in waste collection operations (stadium management), buying green electricity, green procurement guidelines (procurement), practices to increase the use of public transport, and operating environmentally friendly vehicle fleets (mobility and logistics).

The Tackle project is being led by Italy’s Institute of Management of Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies with money from the European Union’s Life programme – a funding instrument for environmental and climate action initiatives.

National football associations from Italy, Romania and Sweden are taking part in the project, alongside sustainability-focused organisations such as ACR+ (Belgium), AMIU Genova (Italy) and LIPOR (Portugal), as well as Euractiv, the Belgium-based communications agency.

Developing the guidelines is one of the “key deliverables” of the project, which aims to increase awareness and improve environmental management during football matches.

Guidelines were identified by analysing 94 sustainability reports, including sport-related documents published by Juventus, AC Milan, Manchester United, Forest Green Rovers, VfL Wolfsburg and Tottenham Hotspur.

Researchers also carried out interviews and performed observations at Romania’s National Stadium, the Friends Arena in Sweden, and the San Siro and Stadio Olimpico in Italy.

The guidelines will be tested at next year’s European Championships after the project was endorsed by UEFA. In total, the project will last for 37 months, concluding in September 2021.

See the full set of guidelines here.

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