The German Football League (DFL), the body which governs the Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga, recently outlined their ambitions to become the world’s first carbon neutral domestic football leagues.
On August 19, the DFL announced that clubs would take a vote in December of this year on whether to include environmental sustainability as a part of its licensing requirements.
Environmental sustainability has been placed at the forefront of the DFL’s objectives over the past six months, through their Taskforce for the Future of Professional Football.
The taskforce, which is made up of 36 business, sport and political experts also looks to focus their energy on other topics such as financial stability, communication with fans and supporting the growth of the professional women’s game.
“This is only the first step of a marathon,” Christian Pfennig, member of the DFL management board, explained to Forbes.
“Our goal is to anchor sustainability oriented to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals as another key factor in our licensing program by 2022/23. Then the following year, we want to introduce incentives, but also sanctions should a club fail to meet the minimum criteria.”
The criteria itself will be finalised with external experts in the coming weeks and months.
Multiple German clubs have been extremely well received for their commitment to sustainability over the years.
Wolfsburg, who are currently first in the Bundesliga this season, were ranked the most environmentally sustainable club earlier this year in a report conducted by Sport Positive.
The report highlighted Wolfsburg’s dedication to using 100 per cent green energy across the club by using bioplastic cups and for ensuring zero landfill waste, whilst offering vegan options at their stadium on game-day. The club’s website also contains a corporate responsibility page with information about climate protection and environmental initiatives, as they plan to be carbon neutral by 2025.
Freiburg have used solar energy at their Schwarzwald-Stadion since 1993, with their new stadium to follow suit when it opens in October. The new facility will also have green energy storage and plug-in charging stations.
In 2010, Mainz became the Bundesliga’s and one of the world’s first carbon neutral football clubs.
These promising examples and many others have generally been taken individually , but the DFL now wants to centralise its approach to sustainability.
“The most important step now is to create a framework for the different clubs that are part of the DFL, from a Champions League participant to teams promoted from the third division,” Pfennig said.
It’s a significant task, but the DFL believe they have to play a role in pursuing the best practices in tackling social issues, but they keep a realistic head in their objectives.
“There is no ideal world or ideal football, Pfennig said.
“We are aware that we will have to adjust our goals, also taking into account the background of an enormous change in all areas of life. That’s why we need a framework and always work in improving our goals.”
The centralised method has been successful for the implementation of other initiatives such as Supporter Liaison Officer’s (SLOs) and improvement of youth academies.
These works, which are part of the DFL’s licensing framework, have been copied by other countries around the world and Australia should be keeping a keen eye on them.
While looking to Germany may be a good guide for improving fan to club relations and youth academy developments, they should especially look to follow their upcoming sustainability guidelines.
Australian clubs should be further focusing on improving their efforts towards sustainability, in a country which generally fails to meet any of those types of objectives.
It may be a difficult initial transition but clubs will eventually benefit from this push in the years to come.