What Does FIFA’s Climate Strategy Mean For Football?

FIFA, the world's leading football organization, has announced a new climate strategy that will apply to all events moving forward, including the 2022 World Cup. FIFA has pledged to cut its emissions by 50% by 2030 and reduce that number to zero by 2040.

How does it plan on accomplishing this lofty goal? What does it mean for football and the sports world as a whole moving forward?

About the Strategy

FIFA's new climate strategy has a lot of moving parts, but it broadly consists of three main goals:

* Make the organization ready for climate action
* Protect tournaments from the adverse effects of climate change
* Ensure climate-resilient football development

Underneath each goal is four supporting pillars:

* Education — Inform FIFA employees on the effects of climate change and potential solutions

* Adaptation — Make football activities more resilient to climate change

* Reduction — Develop a reduction plan defined by science-based annual goals

* Investing — Invest in new sustainable business practices to lower business travel, logistics and accommodation emissions.

FIFA wants to become fully carbon neutral by 2040, just 18 years away. However, critics were quick to point out some deficiencies in the plan.

First, it's difficult to accurately measure the pollution a global organization like FIFA causes in the air, land and sea. The plan also conflicts with FIFA's earlier announcement that a World Cup will be held every two years instead of the customary four.

The Climate Strategy's Impact on Football

A key component of FIFA's climate strategy is the new standards that organizing countries must follow in preparation for its events. We will see these standards in action for the first time at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Here are the most significant changes:

* Required sustainable building certifications for all FIFA venues

* Construction of a fully demountable stadium from recycled materials

* New cooling technology in stadiums that will save 45% of energy per event

* Climate-friendly transportation systems, including metros and maintenance stations for electric vehicles

* Host country (Qatar) must offset all event emissions

These plans need to work for football to remain a worldwide phenomenon, as global sporting events will soon become unsustainable if left unchanged. For example, the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro featured smoggy stadiums and contaminated water, among other issues.

Things will only get worse and more widespread as host countries' climates become more unpredictable. Sudden changes in the weather lead to postponements and cancellations, not to mention unsafe playing conditions. Players and fans alike battle heat exhaustion and dehydration.

FIFA's efforts alone won't solve those issues. Still, it can create a safer environment for players and fans, plus a more sustainable method of transportation to get everyone to and from World Cup venues.

Beyond 2022

Qatar's relatively consistent desert climate is the ideal setting for FIFA to try its new regulations. Still, it remains to be seen how those standards will affect the quality of the game in other locations.

The 2026 World Cup will be held throughout North America, which raises many questions. Will FIFA change its policies for the varying climates? How would these policies affect preexisting problems like rising water temperatures and worsening droughts? Could we end up seeing a different game in Mexico compared to Canada?

The future beyond 2026 remains even more uncertain, as World Cups will occur more often afterwards. Some are concerned that the frequency of events will offset sustainability efforts, especially if they require extensive construction.

If FIFA wants to meet its 2040 goal of carbon neutrality, countries with pollution and unstable climates might never host a FIFA event again because they can't adhere to the new standards.

New Standards, Same Sport

If FIFA's new climate strategy is successful, we might see a decrease in the number of host countries and limited access to events for foreign travelers, but the game itself will remain the same. On the other hand, if these efforts fail, global sporting events will continue to become more unsustainable and might eventually be abandoned altogether. In any case, FIFA has made a massive leap of faith, and the sports world is holding its breath.

Leave a Comment

Featured Site