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How Green Is The Beautiful Game? An Overview Of Environmental Regulation In Football

Football pitch surrounded by lush vegetation
Friday, 18 June 2021 By Conor Daly

Football has often been described as “the world’s game,” with FIFA having a boot-print in 211 FIFA-affiliated national associations worldwide[1].  However its global reach comes with significant social responsibility: football can and should play a central role in helping tackle the world’s challenges. 

One such challenge is tackling environmental issues, be it plastic waste, water conservation or climate change from carbon emissions. And the need is great:  by 2050, forecasts anticipate that over 570 of the world’s low-lying coastal cities will be impacted by the projected 0.5 metre rise in sea levels[2], which in sporting terms mean Premier League clubs such as Chelsea, West Ham and Southampton suffering from partial or total annual flooding of their stadiums (see the Rapid Transition Alliance’s[3] 2020 Report, “Playing Against the Clock[4]).

This article explores how environmental law principles are adopted in the football industry and how it is currently regulated from a sustainability perspective. It considers:

  • Sources of environmental law
  • Football’s growing carbon footprint
  • Examples of environmental initiatives in European football
    • International federations
    • National governing bodies
    • Clubs
    • Players

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Conor Daly

Conor Daly

Conor is an associate at McCann FitzGerald in Ireland.

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