UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin, European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans, Nobel Prize-winning scientist Lučka Kajfež Bogataj, and other climate and environmental experts will attend online meeting to assess football’s role in highlighting climate emergency and promoting sustainability.
Article top media content
UEFA’s Cleaner Air, Better Game campaign will mark European Green Week 2021 by staging a virtual climate and environment workshop on Monday 7 June to explore how football can inspire more people to take action to save the planet.
UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin and the Executive Vice-President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, will both take part in the event, which will be streamed live from 10:00 to 11:00 CET.
Other participants include UEFA’s Director for Football and Social Responsibility, Michele Uva, Lučka Kajfež Bogataj, Slovenia’s Nobel Prize-winning climate scientist, former professional footballer and environmental activist Mathieu Flamini and Lindita Xhaferi-Salihu, the Sport for Climate Action lead at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Climax of UEFA’s Cleaner Air, Better Game campaign
The Cleaner Air, Better Game workshop represents the climax of a campaign launched by UEFA in March to raise awareness of air pollution during the UEFA European Under-21 Championship finals, hosted by Hungary and Slovenia from 24 to 31 March (group stage) and from 31 May to 6 June (knockout stage).
"It’s staggering that one in eight deaths in Europe is linked to air pollution. Yet, how many of us realise the scale of the problem? Around 90 million people play football in Europe, making us one of the biggest ‘communities’ in the world,” said Michele Uva, announcing the workshop on Wednesday.
“We hope Cleaner Air, Better Game can inform this large community about a real, present danger in our lives and show that there are simple actions we can all take together to prevent, minimise or remediate the impact of air pollution."
European Green Week
The campaign is an official associate of the European Green Week, an annual event highlighting initiatives that contribute to the 2050 goal of the European Union’s Green Deal – an economy with net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. The 2021 edition, which runs from 31 May to 4 June, will see a series of activities organised by partners and associates held across Europe, including the Cleaner Air, Better Games workshop.
UEFA agreed to proactively use football’s global visibility to highlight the Green Deal’s objectives by signing up to the European Climate Pact last December.
“We are still learning how football can use its influence to support climate action, as well as adapt to reduce its own environmental impact. The Cleaner Air, Better Game campaign represents the first steps on this journey,” added Michele Uva.
Football’s efforts to help raise the profile of European Green Week 2021 started early. Germany’s 2014 World Cup-winning captain Philipp Lahm and his compatriot Célia Šašić, a two-time EURO winner, joined European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at the event’s online opening conference. Both the former stars are committed to ensuring EURO 2024, to be hosted by Germany, serves as a driving force for sustainable development.
Environmental legacy of UEFA European Under-21 Championship
Actions driven by Cleaner Air, Better Game during the group and knockout stages of the European Under-21 Championships, include:
• guaranteeing a carbon-neutral competition
• giving everyone involved, from players to fans, a chance to reduce personal emissions by committing to simple lifestyle changes on the UEFA.Count Us In platform
• increasing European awareness of the threat of air pollution to global health and sport
• helping hosts Slovenia and Hungary leave a positive legacy for future efforts to combat air pollution; for example, by planting trees to trap carbon pollution, providing bikes to encourage people to cycle rather than drive cars during the competition.
UEFA commitment to football social responsibility
Last month, UEFA underlined its determination to leverage football’s influence to address key global issues, in particular the environment and human rights, by adding a new Responsibility pillar to its overall strategy for European football.
The upcoming EURO 2020 finals are set to be one of the most environmentally friendly finals ever. For some time, UEFA has been offsetting all flights booked for staff, delegates, match officials and others, while all stadiums will recycle and reuse waste. Most host cities will be offering free public transport to ticket holders, volunteers, media and UEFA staff, as well as encouraging fans to walk to the stadium.
The competition’s sustainable legacy will last far beyond the competition. UEFA’s HatTrick assistance programme, which channels revenue from the EURO into football development projects, will fund social and environmental initiatives run by all 55 of Europe’s national associations. Currently, UEFA member associations can claim up to €100,000 a year for local environmental initiatives.
For EURO 2020, we are compensating for carbon emissions, but the goal is to significantly reduce the level of emissions related to our events,” said Michele Uva. “We recognise that UEFA cannot go from 100 to zero overnight, but we would like to reach EURO 2024 in Germany equipped with a full package of best-practice actions for more sustainable football events. This will provide a legacy for all future UEFA competitions.”