Ten questions to the football Bundesliga concerning climate protection

What is the German professional football league currently doing to protect the climate? The non-profit organisation myclimate has investigated this central question. For this purpose, all 18 clubs of the men's football Bundesliga, season 2019/2020, were interviewed. With the result of their research, the climate protection consultants show a snapshot of the efforts of top German football. 15 Bundesliga clubs took part in the survey.

«The focus of our survey was specifically on the issues that are most important in the life cycle as-sessment of a professional football club: mobility, energy, catering, merchandising and waste. In addi-tion we have asked whether the clubs regularly carry out a CO2 balance. We have summarised the answers in a graphic," explains Stefan Baumeister, Managing Director of myclimate Germany.»

The stocktaking shows that the issue of climate protection has long since arrived in professional foot-ball. All clubs are aware that they also bear an ecological responsibility and are already implementing a large number of measures in this regard. In most cases they document this on their website. The clubs are also aware that the topic of climate protection is very extensive and must be considered in all business activities without exception.

Against this background, however, it is also clear that the Bundesliga clubs are far from having ex-hausted their potential for improvement. The overriding goal: to achieve the goal jointly defined by the United Nations of limiting global warming to well below 2°C.

«The Bundesliga clubs enjoy an enormous public interest. They therefore have a particularly great responsibility. The clubs can use their charisma to set an example for society and the economy in many areas – including climate protection. The Federal Government's goal of becoming completely climate-neutral by 2050 affects us all. It therefore also applies to professional football clubs. It is cru-cial that the clubs realise their full potential. After all, CO2 emissions should first and foremost be avoided and reduced», emphasised Baumeister


The survey results in detail

60 percent of the clubs surveyed already calculate their CO2 footprint, according to their own state-ments. From this information, the managers of the football clubs can see very precisely how many tonnes of CO2 are generated in the areas of mobility, energy, catering, etc. Such an analysis is al-ways the foundation for effective climate protection. Because: Only what is analysed can be managed and controlled.


The mobility sector is the most significant in the overall result of all CO2 emissions generated by a football club. All teams indicate that the stadium ticket can also be used for free travel by public trans-port on match days. A less homogeneous picture is seen in the travel behaviour of the professional clubs themselves. It is true that the majority of clubs, with a share of 67 per cent, did not attend trai-ning camps or test matches outside Europe last year. However, BVB, Borussia Mönchengladbach, Hertha BSC, SV Werder Bremen and Vfl Wolfsburg also travelled further afield. «A training camp with guest appearances in the USA may make economic sense for many clubs, but it places an additional burden on the climate. Therefore, the shorter the journey and the lower the emissions of the means of transport, the better – even if Borussia Dortmund and Vfl Wolfsburg claim to have compensated the CO2-Emissions for their team trips», Baumeister classifies.


In terms of energy production, ten football companies state that the electricity needs of their stadium are already 91-100 percent covered by renewable energies. All others are still well below this figure. As the switch to certified green electricity can be made without much effort, this is probably one of the most easily changed, but at the same time also the greatest levers for an improved climate balance. In addition, six clubs have a certified environmental/energy management system. This provides them with a tool for systematically recording and continuously improving environmental effects and energy consumption.


How many football clubs offer organic bratwursts in their stadium? Only Wolfsburg was able to answer this question with «yes». «Because the organic seal for meat products primarily stands for species-appropriate husbandry, it is important to additionally ensure that the product ingredients also originate from the region», Baumeister puts it in a nutshell. For food products, the standard applies: organic and regional – not either/or, but simultaneously. However, vegan and vegetarian dishes from the regi-on are the most climate-friendly.
The question of draught beer also focused on the issue of regionality. In addition to the raw materials and the production process, the transport route plays a significant role in the greenhouse gas emissi-ons of the popular hop drink. On average, Bundesliga clubs purchase their beer from a brewery lo-cated around 90 km from the stadium. Borussia Dortmund, FC Augsburg, Fortuna Düsseldorf and SV Werder Bremen reduce this average significantly and are only about 5 km away from the brewery of their choice. Other clubs, however, buy their beer from breweries located well over 100 km away from the stadium.



There is nothing else that players and fans can use to express their affiliation with their football club to the outside world better than team jerseys. But where are these produced, myclimate wanted to know from the first division clubs and found out: Only three clubs obtain their jerseys from European pro-duction. The vast majority of the football companies use textile products from outside Europe, such as India, for example – which in comparison condemns higher transport emissions.

However, 73 % of the clubs participating in the survey offer textile goods in their fan shops with an environmental label which they claim takes climate protection into account. «When it comes to fan merchandise and mer-chandising, German professional football clubs have a great deal of influence in placing the issue of sustainability and climate protection with their partners, outfitters and suppliers. What is already com-mon practice in other sectors of the economy could still take German professional football to a new level», Baumeister sees the great potential for change through football.


Unfortunately, large quantities of waste are also inseparably linked to major events such as Bundesli-ga football matches. Especially piles of discarded cups have been an integral part of stadiums for many years. The myclimate survey shows that the majority of clubs have switched to returnable cup systems, which generally have a better CO2 balance than disposable cups. Many clubs take care not to have to drive the returnable cups far away for washing up in order to reduce transport distances. Borussia Mönchengladbach even states that the cups are washed directly in the stadium. Borussia Dortmund is the only club to rely on a cup mix of returnable and recycled PET disposable cups.


The random Bundesliga survey by myclimate shows that there is already some movement among professional football clubs in terms of sustainability – and that is a good thing. On the other hand, there is still room for improvement at all clubs. myclimate therefore advises all Bundesliga clubs to systematically address the topic of climate protection and to carry out an annual CO2 balance. Only in this way can the clubs obtain an individual and comprehensive overall picture of the complex issue of their own CO2 footprint. myclimate would like to ask the clubs at regular intervals what progress the Bundesliga clubs will make in the individual categories in the coming years.

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