By Alexa Klepper
I use a reusable water jug, support sustainable businesses when possible, and unplug my electronics when not being used. But these practices are almost meaningless in terms of sustainability. The planet’s ozone is in danger, the climate is changing rapidly, and pollution is contaminating our water, air and soil.
The International Federation of Association Football (FIFA), like many other large corporations contributes significantly towards the environment’s degradation. FIFA is more responsible than other large corporations for hosting mega events. Mega-events’ negative environmental impact is primarily due to air travel emissions. Mega-events of all kinds, including FIFA World Cups, should be banned until they are sustainable.
World Cups are the most popular mega-event in the world. In 2014, 3.4 Million people attended Brazil’s World Cup and 3.03M people attended Russia’s 2018 World Cup. FIFA has the unique responsibility of implementing sustainable practices.
FIFA has responded in some ways to this challenge. FIFA began adopting sustainable practices in 2014 to reduce its environmental impact and carbon dioxide emissions. FIFA encourages recycling and encourages individuals to adopt sustainable practices in stadiums. FIFA funded 26 projects worth $1.05 million to offset carbon dioxide emissions from travel, particularly air travel, between the 2014 World Cup and home.
According to the Environmental and Energy Study Institute, (EESI), airplanes also emit around 2 percent of nitrous gases, soot and sulfate particles. Each contributes to global warming. FIFA’s goal of reducing net carbon dioxide emissions has been achieved, but other atmospheric pollutants continue to build up. According to ESSI data, air travel emission are expected to triple by 2050. If FIFA continues focusing on carbon dioxide emissions, other omissions will continue to devastate the atmosphere.
This gap in FIFA’s efforts to combat global warming, is particularly troubling because FIFA’s reports fail to recognize non-carbon dioxide emissions. The public will not be able to fully assess the impact of FIFAs sustainability practices unless a third party source reports. Although FIFA deserves credit in reducing carbon dioxide emissions, and encouraging sustainable behaviours within stadiums it reports doubts about what was missing from FIFA’s plan.
FIFA’s ineffective approach towards sustainability is typical for other mega-event organizers. Why are mega-events held? Why is mega-events more important than saving the planet? Our society has learned something from the pandemic: We can do almost anything within our four walls.
It is clear that watching soccer on TV doesn’t compare to the experience of watching a live game. However, mega-events have far too many negative effects on the environment to justify being a spectator. It is more important to protect the environment and future generations than a 90-minute match. We are at the brink of an environment catastrophe so severe that our planet is beyond saving. Large corporations are doing little to protect life as it exists today.
Solutions that are focused on individual actions will not help FIFA reduce its environmental impact unless they take full responsibility. FIFA must recognize its primary role in the environmental destruction and take the necessary steps to rectify it. There should be no World Cup unless FIFA acknowledges its primary role in the destruction of the environment.
Alexa Klepper is a Franklin & Marshall College first-year student