Football and climate change

Around a third of grassroots pitches are already losing six weeks to two months of the year from flooding due to severe weather1, and a recent study2 reported that by 2050, a quarter of UK football grounds will be flooded. With more heavy rainfall expected in the autumn in the UK in the future, clubs need to start thinking about how they can help combat our changing climate. 

What action can my club take?

The United Nations Sports for Climate Action initiative invites sports organisations to consider a range of actions to reduce their carbon footprint in order to tackle climate change. Organisations from around the globe have signed up, including the Football Association (FA) and Forest Green Rovers, described by FIFA as 'the greenest football club in the world'. They aim to reduce their carbon footprint through actions such as:

  • using green energy; and
  • capturing rainfall for irrigation rather than using mains water.

The FA highlighted that across the grassroots game, around 150,000 matches are cancelled each year due to ‘poor quality pitches’. The FA advises that good maintenance practices will ensure good quality pitches, which will help with the management of severe weather including surface water flooding or drought. 

If your club is already susceptible to flooding or frequently becomes waterlogged, you may need to consider how you can adapt your grounds maintenance to tackle this both now and in the future. The Grounds Management Association Toolkit includes a range of resources and Sport England's sustainability materials include flooding and other relevant guidance.

Suggested actions include:

  • regular maintenance of drainage systems; and
  • regular aeration of grass pitches.

Where can I find out more?

BT Sport's Green Routine has shared a range of information, including a selection of videos, on climate change and football as well as other sports. 

Our 2-page guide includes further information about the climate science around rainfall and flooding, as well as its potential impact on football.

Other sports

Much of the advice for football clubs is also relevant to other sports such as cricket, rugby and tennis, so do take a look at the guidance above to see what your sports organisation can do to tackle climate change.

 

1Sports and Recreation Alliance (2014) Alliance Survey referenced in Rapid Transition Alliance: Playing against the clock (2020)

2Rapid Transition Alliance (Playing against the clock (2020)