Like any other sector, the sports industry recognises the importance of sustainability. In context of a European project named GOALS an organisational and operational analysis was executed aimed at assessing the starting level of organisational and operational efforts regarding environmental protection in the targeted sport organisations.
The organisational analysis mainly relied on a preliminary documental analysis of organizational charts and procedures and, consequently, on in-depth interviews conducted with diverse organisational members in each participating organisation: Romanian Football Federation (FRF), Portuguese Football Federation (FPF), Kosovar Football Federation (FFK), and Real Betis Balompié (RBB). By assessing the state-of-the-art of environmental governance, the analysis pointed out governance gaps and improvement opportunities.
Some recurring environmental governance needs emerged from the interviews across all organisations involved. Despite environmental concerns are occasionally accounted in organizations’ activities thanks to employees’ awareness of environmental issues or organisations’ proactivity towards sustainability, most organisations often lack a structured approach to environmental management. In the analysis the governance needs were divided in four main domains and solutions were provided to tackle these needs.
For the operational analysis an environmental footprint assessment was conducted to rate football organisations’ environmental current status and get information of what they can do in order to apply changes to reduce their environmental footprint. This report is based on the data obtained through data collection campaign that was conducted between January 2021 and May 2021 in 3 European countries (Kosovo, Portugal and Romania). The analysis focused on calculating the environmental footprint of a single amateur football match and was conducted through a Life Cycle Assessment which takes into account the overall environmental burden associated to the whole life cycle of a product or service. Organising a football match brings along multiple factors that should be considered: energy and water consumption, sport apparel and equipment, transport… The results, after the impact assessment, allowed to design a list of possible improvement actions. Improvements such as reducing the shower time and travelling by bus were proposed.
Considering the environmental impact categories included in the analysis, climate change and resource consumption are by far the most relevant. If all the activities connected to the life cycle of a football match were considered, transport and sportwear and equipment are the most relevant followed by electricity and water consumption. If the focus is sportwear and equipment, leather football shoes production is by far the most impactful, followed by sport suit and sports bag. Green procurement practices should be considered in order to buy more sustainable products especially in the field of sportwear and equipment.
A series of green governance and operational practices were proposed, and their potential benefits assessed in the report. Policymakers should support football clubs both from a normative and economic perspective, facilitating the transition towards a circular economy and the fight against climate change.