LaLiga’s Five Keys To Sustainability In Professional Football

December 2, 2019

Professional football in Spain displays its commitment to the environment through the sustainability initiatives led by the LaLiga Santander and LaLiga SmartBank clubs, which demonstrate that the sporting world is also undergoing a transformation towards truly sustainable development. The concept of “paying society back for what it has given” is key in the world of football and must incorporate all the areas in which the industry impacts the planet, including the environment.

LaLiga supports Climate Change Conference

Between 2 and 13 December, Madrid will host the 25th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP25) as part of the 2019 edition of the UN Climate Change Conference. LaLiga will actively be supporting the event by launching a series of actions over the course of Matchdays 15, 16 and 17. In the match broadcasts across these rounds of fixtures, an awareness-raising message will be displayed on the in-stadium perimeter boards in Spanish, English, Arabic and Chinese. In addition, throughout these three matchdays, the the COP25 emblem will take its place alongside the LaLiga logo in the national and international broadcasts in a show of support for the conference event.

The five keys to sustainability

LaLiga is keen to progress towards a sustainable management model across its operations and establish the foundations to be recognised as a responsible sporting institution that acts as a role model, whilst promoting such practices amongst its member clubs and SADs (public limited sports companies).

For the past two years, LaLiga and its Foundation have been working on the Fair Play Social project, which seeks to incorporate social responsibility practices within the institution’s existing business management model. A total of 22 clubs have participated in the programme with a view to bringing their organisational, environmental and social activities in line with their current sustainability programmes. The analysis involved in this process is key to asserting the need for holistic initiatives in this field.

  1. Awareness campaigns that help fight climate change, promote respect for the environment in a sustainable way and raise public awareness, particularly amongst followers of the professional game. Last season saw Real Sociedad launch a scheme in which the club encouraged fans attending games at Anoeta to recycle the shells of the sunflower seeds typically eaten during matches in Spain by handing out biodegrable boxes for the supporters to put the shells in. At the end of games, fans placed the orange-coloured boxes in bins provided for this purpose throughout the stadium, with the shells subsequently turned into compost and spread on land throughout the Gipuzkoa region.

2. The majority of LaLiga clubs now have a waste management system in place at their stadiums and training grounds. One such example is the initiative led by RC Celta, who, at the beginning of 2019, installed bins to separate the waste produced at the club’s social headquarters, the Abanca Balaidos stadium and its A Madroa training ground.

3. Reduction of carbon footprint and offsetting in relation to the journeys made by clubs. It is becoming ever more common to see LaLiga teams use public transport to get to their games. R. Zaragoza largely travel by bus as the Argonsese side sought a means to offset the CO2 they were producing. With the support of the Fundacion Ecologia y Desarrollo, the club was able to calculate the distances travelled, quantify their carbon dioxide emissions and the financial costs involved. The club then donated this sum to reforestation projects in San Juan de Limay, Nicaragua.

4. Partnerships with environmentally committed companies An increasing number of LaLiga Santander and LaLiga SmartBank clubs have, given their concerns over the environment, teamed up with environmentally aware organisations as a part of their corporate social responsibility programmes. RC Deportivo, for example, secured a sponsorship deal with Ecoalf, a firm that manufactures top-quality clothing made from recycled materials. As a part of this link-up, the club’s kit is now made from recycled materials. The partnership has seen the Galicia-based side become the first club on the planet to be kitted out with sustainable strips made from recycled ocean waste.

5. Responsible energy use amongst the LaLiga clubs. The 848 sporting events organised each year by the competition have an environmental impact. It is therefore necessary to promote the management and implementation of preventative and corrective measures with a view to minimising this impact. In a pioneering move, Real Betis this year announced that it had signed up to the United Nations’ Climate Neutral Now campaign, which saw the club make a commitment to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and offset the rest of its emissions. Los Verdiblancos‘ new training complex is set to feature renewable energy generators, advanced waste collection and treatment systems and efficient energy systems.

Athletic Club’s San Mames stadium became the first football ground in Europe to be awarded the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) cerfitifaction, the most widely used green building rating system in the world. The LEED certification rates the sustainability of a building on the basis of the following criteria: sustainability sites, energy and water saving, use of low environmental impact material, indoor environmental quality and innovation in design.

Professional football commits to best-in-class practices

LaLiga recently signed an agreement with Ecovidrio, the charity organisation responsible for the recycling of glass waste in Spain and is now working alongside the organisation to promote a campaign on its social media profiles to raise awarenesss of the environmental benefits involved in recycling glass containers.

The aforementioned initiatives bear witness to the comittment shown by the professional ranks of the Spanish game towards the environment in recent years. LaLiga and its clubs will continue to work on and develop such environmentally friendly initiatives and practices in an effort to make football a more sustainable industry.