Photo Credit: History of Soccer
As concerns over global temperatures continue to escalate and governments become more environmentally conscious, sustainability has climbed the ladder of importance for event organisers. Coordinators of large-scale occasions such as sporting events and festivals now need to consider the environmental consequences these grand spectacles will have on society.
At the beginning of 2020, the host nation of the 2022 Fifa™ World Cup, Qatar, announced its sustainability strategy for the tournament, promising the first-ever carbon-neutral World Cup. The Sustainability Strategy for the 2022 World Cup was set out with the aim of building a sustainable legacy, whilst also contributing to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and Qatar’s 2030 development targets.
Despite the good intentions set out by Qatar and Fifa, there have been many questions about how achievable a carbon-neutral World Cup situated in the Gulf desert peninsula really is. In June 2021, Fifa published a report that detailed forecasts of 3.6m tonnes of carbon dioxide to be produced throughout the international football festival, 1.5m tonnes greater than what was produced at the previous World Cup in Russia. However, organisers remain optimistic about delivering an environmentally friendly tournament.
So, how is this World Cup working on sustainability?
Qatar has set out the following plans in the build-up to the 2022 highly anticipated tournament, hoping to achieve the first carbon-neutral contest ever.
1. Compact Infrastructure
The upcoming World Cup in Qatar has uniquely positioned itself as a compact tournament, not only benefiting the travel time for both supporters and teams but also reducing the overall release of carbon emissions throughout the tournament. Out of the 32 teams attending this year’s World Cup, 24 teams are within a 10-kilometre radius of the capital city, Doha. All eight stadiums created for this year’s tournament are located in Doha, dramatically reducing transport carbon emissions.
2. Stadium Recycling
Throughout the construction of the eight host stadiums, the sites collectively rerouted 79% of solid waste from landfill to be reused or recycled. The Al Janoub Stadium is one of the most successful arenas to positively move waste to recycling, with 90% of construction waste being recycled. The stadiums have also implemented recycling systems for fans during match days to help reduce waste.
3. Green Legacy
To establish a ‘green legacy’ after the 2022 World Cup for future generations, organisers set out to plant trees around the vicinity of the various host stadiums, as well as create an 880,000m² green space to help increase the country’s biodiversity. Further advancements on these targets were announced in 2021, with Qatar announcing plans to plant at least 1 million trees before the competition. This goal is in line with their promise of planting 10 million trees by 2030, supporting the Middle East Green Initiative established by Saudi Arabia in October 2021.
4. Sourcing Sustainably
The organising body of the 2022 Fifa™ World Cup, The Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC), created a Sustainable Sourcing Code along with Fifa. These rules and regulations were established to ensure sustainable sourcing procedures were carried out by all suppliers and sponsors involved in the competition. Sustainable procurement throughout all supply chains were outlined within the initiatives, assisting the overall goal of a carbon-neutral tournament.
Learn more about the sustainable plans set out in the lead-up to the 2022 Qatar Fifa™ World Cup here.
Have Supporters Been Misled?
Despite Qatar’s claims of a contest with record low carbon emissions, some critics believe the sustainable strategy from both Qatar and Fifa is still not enough. Although there are environmental advantages to this year’s tournament such as travel reductions, there are accusations that labelling this World Cup as carbon-neutral could be misleading.
A recent report from the non-profit organisation Carbon Market Watch has been very critical of the organiser’s claims of ‘carbon-neutral’ as to good to be true, counteracting some of the environmental claims made around emissions and energy usage. Read the full report to find out more.
As the tournament kicks off this week, the question as to whether or not this World Cup is truly sustainable will hopefully be answered.