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Article, wed. 9th Dec 2020

Football supporters demand environmentally sound considerations from their clubs

Did you know that a football match could generate 0.8 kg of waste per spectator, which corresponds to 40.2 tons of waste per match? A stadium could consume as much as 8,000,000 kWh of electricity in 1 year and use 100,000 m3 of water in the same period.

A brand new survey from LIFE TACKLE: “The environmental awareness and behaviour of professional football supporters: an empirical survey ” shows that sustainable efforts are highly recommended by football fans. A total of 1423 questionnaires were collected from 12 European stadiums: 1. Olympic Stadium (Rome, Italy) 2. Luigi Ferraris - Marassi (Genova, Italy) 3. Paolo Mazza (Ferrara, Italy) 4. Renzo Barbera (Palermo, Italy) 5. National Arena (Bucarest, Romania) 6. Voluntari 

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Arena (Voluntari, Romania) 7. Friends Arena (Solna, Sweden)  Tele 2 Arena (Stockholm, Sweden) 9. Estadio do Dragao (Porto, Portugal) 10. Benito Villamarin (Sevilla, Spain) 11. Roi Baudoin (Brussels, Belgium) 12. Aviva Stadium (Dublin, Ireland).

Looking at the results when football fans are asked of the importance of fighting climate change, the results are very clear - more than 90% of the fans agree or strongly agree with the following four sentences:

  1. Protecting the environment and natural resources

  2. Preventing pollution

  3. Respecting the Earth and living in harmony with other species and

  4. Fighting climate change.

These results show a very high level of environmental values of supporters, who strongly believe that the natural environment should be preserved. When asked who are the subjects that should take action to promote a direct commitment by the world of football, supporters indicate the International Federations (FIFA and UEFA) and Public Authorities. No doubt that International Federations and Authorities can address sustainability issues, however, who is really in charge of sustainability are stadium managers and Clubs, respectively. It is thus important that these subjects recognize their important role in pushing towards a more sustainable world of football

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The study further reveals that football supporters show environmental attitude and recognize that environmental protection is an important issue. They also think that they have a good level of knowledge and understanding of the main environmental issues (e.g. climate change, waste etc.) and that they are capable to effectively recognize greener products and to properly carry out separate waste collection. As such, they believe that even the world of football should account and take action to protect the environment and limit its own adverse impacts. 85% says they feel confident that their football club will take action to preserve the environment. Only 10% disagree.


Supporters own responsibility

The picture of the supporters' own behavior regarding acting sustainable: The survey revealed that most football supporters are youngsters who believe that riding bicycles is eco-friendlier. Yet they do not usually use bicycles to reach the stadium. They will happily attend the stadiums activities regarding waste management, green public procurement etc., but using their own bicycle when going to a match is not seen as a sustainable issue. Despite 54% of the respondents only lived less than 5 km from the stadium.

The more frequent use of private cars and the less frequent use of bicycles implies a higher environmental impact. As a matter of fact, respondents use private cars to reach the stadium most often in comparison to their daily life mobility patterns. Indeed, 56.3% of respondents always use private cars when they travel to the stadium.  

There is a clear misalignment between the real impacts of football matches, that are huge especially in relation to energy and water consumption and to CO2 emissions derived from supporters’ mobility and supporters’ perception about it. This interpretation might partially explain why, when asked about which actions they would be willing to take during matches to reduce their own environmental impacts, they enlist waste prevention and separate waste collection as the most relevant ones whereas the usage of public transport or bikes is the less chosen option.

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Follow up projects

The purpose of a follow up project at the 12 pilot stadiums: These stadiums will implement several pilot actions related to the themes of supporters’ mobility, energy management, water management, waste management, green public procurement, and governance/environmental performance of stadiums. In addition, the project includes actions for the promotion of environmental awareness. In this regard, one of the activities aims at assessing the environmental awareness/behavior of football fans. To effectively communicate the environmental initiatives performed and their positive outcomes, to influence them to turn their behavioral intentions into actual behaviors. There is the need to communicate and explain the contribution that each supporter can individually give to tackle environmental issues during matches to encourage their pro-environmental behavior.

Read the entire survey here:

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