Players warm up prior to the French Cup (Coupe de France) semi final soccer match between PSG and FC Nantes at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris, France. [Yolan Valat/EPA]
The French professional football governing body and the environmental NGO WWF signed a partnership in April to reduce the ecological footprint of football clubs.
Water and energy consumption, waste generation, food and travel… any sporting event has an impact on the environment and football is no exception.
In order to raise awareness about this and improve sustainability in football, the WFF and the Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP) have decided to work together for a year.
The partnership “aims to make our public and our players aware of the environmental issues,” said Nathalie Boy de la Tour, president of the LFP, during the presentation of the initiative.
As the main benefit, French football clubs will take advantage of the WWF’s expertise to reduce their ecological footprint. “We want stadiums to reduce their waste and put in place a zero plastic and zero deforestation policy on food during matches,” Boy de la Tour explained.
WFF will provide football teams with guidelines on specific environmental challenges in professional football to help the clubs improve their environmental performance by reducing waste generation or phasing out plastics from stadiums.
“A few figures are enough to acknowledge the climate emergency. Every four minutes, the equivalent to a football ground of forest disappears. Every minute, the equivalent of a plastic garbage bucket is poured into the oceans,” she warned.
Mascots for the climate
The LFP will use the giant screens in stadiums to release spots on the need to preserve biodiversity and call for donations to that end, in both the first and second professional football leagues.
The spots will even feature the clubs’ mascots such as the lion of the Olympique de Lyon, the panther of AS Saint-Étienne or Anger’s panda to gain supporters attention.
Football teams, including the internationally renowned AS Monaco or Paris Saint Germain (PSG), will participate in the dissemination campaign in their social media channels as well.
“Thanks to sports actors and the LFP commitment for the environment and the fight against the loss of the biodiversity, we will be able to raise awareness collectively among the general public, on the necessity to protect our planet,” Isabelle Autissier, professional navigator and president of WWF France said.
The campaign will go beyond fans and target young professional footballers too. WWF will accompany the clubs in educating their youngest players about the need to protect the environment through a series of activities, including reforestation field trips, clean-up operations or training on selective waste management.
This is not the first time LFP and WWF collaborate on trying to make football more sustainable. A year ago, the French league signed the charter of eco-responsible sports events, a joint initiative of the NGO and the French Ministry of Sports.
The charter is a 15 commitments text which aims at making sports events more environmentally friendly.
By signing the text, sports organisers commit to increasing sustainable food available for purchase, improving mobility, reducing waste, raising awareness on climate issues, promoting ecological innovation or working towards the optimisation of water and energy consumption.
“WWF France is not the policeman of the environment. We want to first raise awareness and change attitudes on these issues,” Autissier argued.
To carry those messages, “we need champions!” she said.