FIFA Head of Sustainability & Environment Federico Addiechi addressed a European Parliament Sports Group panel discussion
FIFA further committed to climate action and sustainability through its Climate Strategy
Football itself is being impacted by the effects of climate change
Addressing the European Parliament's (EP) Sports Group during the session "Environmental sustainability in sport", FIFA Head of Sustainability Federico Addiechi explained how FIFA’s approach to sustainability has evolved over the last years. He said it was now “impossible for sustainability not to be an integral and major part of any bid for sporting events going forward."
The event was organised by the EP Sports Group and led by MEP Tomasz Frankowski, MEP Tiziana Beghin and MEP Viola von Cramon-Taubadel, who moderated the discussions. Nicole Mündelein, Coordinator, Host City Working Group Sustainability for UEFA EURO 2024, and Riikka Rakic, Head of Sustainability, International Biathlon Union (IBU) also took part in the discussion.
Mr Addiechi, who acknowledged that the impact of FIFA’s major tournaments was "substantial", explained that FIFA had a three-fold responsibility when it came to climate change.
The first was to analyse and quantify the impact of FIFA’s activities, and identify realistic and ambitious scenarios that would help FIFA in its reduction plan towards 2030 and a net zero path to 2040. These goals are enshrined in FIFA’s Climate Strategy, launched by FIFA President Gianni Infantino at COP26 in Glasgow, and are aligned with the UN Sports for Climate Action Framework, of which FIFA was one of the first signatories.
Secondly, Mr Addiechi said that FIFA had a responsibility to use the reach and impact of its tournaments to raise awareness about the importance and need for climate action.
The third was to recognise the threat to football itself. "(Climate change) is already impacting the ability for football to be played due to extreme weather patterns around the world, which are affecting the health and wellbeing of players and participants, and they are becoming an existential threat in the territories of some of our member associations," he said.
Mr Addiechi said that the effects of climate change affected the way that FIFA engages with stakeholders and the future of the game. "While I believe that our organisation has been at the forefront of a comprehensive integration of sustainability in the world of sport over the past decades and has the ambition to continue leading that field in the world of sport, I am also aware of the fact that the challenges that we’re facing in this climate crisis are huge," he said.
He explained that when the FIFA World Cup 2022™ was awarded to Qatar, in 2010, the bidding process did not include stringent sustainability requirements like the ones required since 2016. However, he said that thanks to the joint efforts of FIFA and local organisers, Qatar delivered one of the most comprehensive sustainability works in the world of sports, leaving a positive legacy for social, economic and environmental stewardship in the country and region.