On June 12 2020 EURO Cup 2020 officially opened with a monumental framework unprecedented in history. In a month, 51 matches will take place in 12 countries spread across continental Europe with distances of thousands of kilometers apart. Football fans are eagerly awaiting, while climate experts warn the tournament is an environmental disaster.
Michel Platini, the former president of the UEFA European Football Federation, was initially welcomed as a revolution to bring football festivals to all nations. But now the big tournament model is being criticized by environmentalists for causing massive emissions of greenhouse gases that are causing global warming.
First is the distance factor between the places where the match is held. Take an example: Polish fans who want to see the home team in June 2020, for the group stage alone, will have to travel 6000 km in 10 days from Poland to Bilbao in Spain and then over Dublin of Ireland. If the Polish team gets into the round of 1/8, the Polish fan will have to fly to Budapest and unfortunately, the team will reach the quarterfinals and want to continue to follow the team, they will have to move to the Baku city of Azerbaidjan, 4000 km away from London where the semi-finals and finals are held.
Compared to the tournament format 4 years ago, EURO 2016 held in France, the fans only need a return ticket to France plus a few train journeys to 10 cities is enough.
The above is just a theoretical calculation, but obviously expanding the venues to 12 countries inevitably leads to a doubling of travel compared to one country. It is also a basis for environmentalists, especially Green Party parliamentarians in the European Parliament, to raise concerns about the impact of the EURO expansion on the climate, an urgent issue is posing to the whole world.
The European Football management institution said that in the tournament organization, the major polluting factors are infrastructure and transport. Therefore, many strong national football teams such as Spain, England, Netherlands, Italy, capable of going far in the tournament, will mainly play at home in the group stage to limit the movement of the neck. avid supporters ready to move thousands of kilometers along cheering the home team. In addition, “very few competitive facilities were built” only 1 of the 12 stadiums, the one in Budapest, was newly built.
But can such arguments convince professionals? According to Andrew Walfle, a researcher at Tyndall Center for Climate Change Research, University of Manchester, the building is actually more pollutant than traffic, in major sports competitions. Thus, EURO Cup 2020 has reduced pollution emissions a lot compared to other tournaments, such as the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, where the entire stadium system is newly built to serve the event.
As for the emission due to the movement of the audience, experts think this is the most difficult factor to calculate. The estimations are mainly based on hypotheses, more or less unrealistic.
According to mechanical calculations, there will be about 425 thousand tons of CO2 emitted from the movements of the fans and the team during the EURO Cup 2020. Meanwhile, according to the reports after the events of other countries. Organized previously, the 2016 EURO period organized in a country has caused emissions of up to 517 thousand tons of CO2 and nearly 1.5 million tons for the 2018 World Cup, taking place in 11 cities of Russia. Of course, the World Cup has 32 participating national teams from all continents, while the EURO has only 24 countries.
Climate expert Nguyen Duc Hiep in New South Wales – Australia, said that the level of impact on the climate of the movement is not necessarily too large. Especially now the world has a mechanism to compensate for CO2 emissions due to movement.
Plant 50,000 trees in each organized country
UEFA, the tournament organizer, confirmed that it was aware of the “urgent” issue and promised EURO Cup 2020 would be the “most environmentally respectful tournament” in history. The European Football Confederation pledges to “compensate” 425 thousand tons of carbon emitted by the tournament through investments in projects to reduce polluting emissions, and UEFA has announced a planting program of 50 Thousand of trees in each country welcome the tournament, jobs are said to be more symbolic. The environmental expert Andrew Walfle quoted above said that “planting trees and then leaving, does not solve the problem. This will not change the number of emissions generated in the tournament.”
To reduce the impact on the ecological environment, UEFA plans to provide spectators with a free entry ticket to public transport in the tournament cities.
According to Dr. Le Anh Tuan, Research Institute for Climate Change, Can Tho University, emission compensation is a solution, but he emphasized environmental protection measures at the event venue.
In terms of stadium waste recycling, UEFA believes that EURO Cup 2020 will do better than the 2016 tournament in France, where only 38% of the stadium waste is recycled.
Review the mock-up expansion model
If the EURO has just upgraded to 16 from 24 teams four years ago, FIFA is planning to increase the number of teams attending the World Cup from 32 to 48 teams.
The expansion of the tournament scale has become a controversial issue between organizers and environmentalists. Meanwhile, such events are always a big festival for fans and a great opportunity for the organizers.
In September 2019, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin admitted: “By this time the football world has not done much for the environment” and EURO Cup 2020 will “cause much pollution.”
Recently, the European football management institution has repeatedly mentioned the possibility that the EURO Cup 2020 version will not continue in the next period and the EURO will return to the same way with the host country of 2024 tournament, Germany.
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