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Football takes lead role at sustainability festival


Topics such as embedding sustainability practices within coaching and infrastructure were discussed at the Green & Blue Festival in Milan.

Football's growing role in the field of social and environmental sustainability was highlighted at the recent Green & Blue Festival in Milan.

Speaking on a panel entitled 'And what about football?', UEFA football and social responsibility director Michele Uva talked through the European governing body's sustainability strategy, 'Strength through Unity'. It aims to inspire, activate and accelerate collective action on respecting human rights and the environment within the context of European football through to 2030.

Uva explained how UEFA's 55 member associations, plus European clubs and leagues, are being engaged in the implementation phase – and highlighted the role of players and coaches. "We have 25 million children under the age of 18 playing football in Europe," he said. "Going forward, it will be mandatory for coaches to study sustainability concepts and incorporate it within their training."

Regarding infrastructure sustainability, Uva said UEFA was committed to raising the bar by setting criteria and sharing best practices for a new generation of sustainable football venues. He said: "There is no one-size-fits-all formula. It depends on the individual context. But whether renovations or new stadiums are made, sustainability must be at their centre."

The festival was convened by the GEDI publishing group in collaboration with La Repubblica, backed by Italian Tech editor-in-chief Riccardo Luna. GEDI innovation and sustainability editor Emanuela Perinetti moderated a panel including Marco Caroli (Sampdoria), Morten Thorsby (Sampdoria / We Play Green), Nicola Giuggioli (Eco-Age), Manuela Ravalli (Director of CSR Sport IULM) and Magda Pozzo (Udinese).