The English Football Association announced on Monday (October 11) that it will team up with the GreenCode environmental certification system to make the English Football League (EFL) more sustainable.
The League consists of 72 members, 69 in England and 3 in Wales, which is the first division after the English Premier League. The new EFL program is called “EFL Green Clubs” and aims to help its members improve their environmental practices and measures.
“Climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing humanity today,” Trevor Burch, managing director of the EFL, said when presenting the plans. “It is imperative that the Premier League and its clubs take action to improve us and reduce our environmental impact.”
The EFL Green Clubs are set to impart the expertise of the world’s first climate-neutral football club, Forest Green Rovers. Dale Vince, president of the association, is also CEO of consulting firm GreenCode, the association’s partner in program development and implementation.
Forest Green Rovers became the world’s first UN-accredited climate-neutral football club in 2018 after chairman Del Vince implemented measures such as banning players from eating red meat in 2010.
Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said: “The Forest Green Rovers have been recognized by the United Nations and FIFA as pioneers in green football and it is great to see their pioneering work being carried out across the league.”
According to a press release from the English Football League, the program will include an accreditation system that assesses the environmental performance of clubs, provides customized guidance and practical advice to help clubs make a difference, and recognizes those who excel in the field.
In addition, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association will provide funding to enable each club to participate in the programme. The EFL as an organization will also conduct a GreenCode assessment to improve its environmental practices.
“A number of our clubs are already taking practical steps to become more sustainable… We hope that EFL Green Clubs will give every club in our competition the opportunity to continue, improve or begin their journey towards a more sustainable future,” said Birch. .
Put England in the spotlight
England is widely known as one of the leading countries in the field of sustainability in football.
“In England, there are more groups that are coming together at different clubs and want to support clubs in improving their environmental sustainability,” Antonia Hajemann, managing director of the fan organization SD Europe told EURACTIV.
For England, improving the environmental sustainability of its national sport may be a matter of national image.
Huddleston added: “The COP26 conference in Glasgow is approaching and the EFL Green Clubs initiative is an opportunity to put football clubs at the heart of industries that help protect the environment.”
The German Bundesliga will vote in December on whether to make sustainability criteria mandatory for licensing clubs in the league.
If the vote is positive, clubs in the top German Bundesliga may have to spend significant resources improving their sustainability as early as 2024.
The Premier League’s advance is the second effort by a major league in a few months, as the desire to decarbonize football appears to be growing among fans and football club boards.
However, there are doubts about the possibility of replicating the successes in Germany and England elsewhere. According to Hagmann, football fans outside Germany and the UK are relatively less concerned with environmental sustainability.
“Environmental sustainability in football is just getting started,” she added.
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