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Bundesliga looks to become the first sustainable league in the world – will Australia follow?

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.

Philip Panas is a sports journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy and industry matters, drawing on his knowledge and passion of the game.

Soil turned at Western United stadium site as construction commences

Western United has announced that works have commenced on the construction of the Wyndham City Stadium precinct.

Western United has announced that works have commenced on the construction of the Wyndham City Stadium precinct.

Works have begun on the site’s haul road, which the club’s statement described as ‘the first tactile step in the project’. This means plans are officially underway as the club seeks to deliver a 15,000-capacity rectangular stadium and a surrounding training precinct which will include an additional 1,000-seat stadium.

Speaking on behalf of Western Melbourne Group (WMG) – Western United’s parent company – Chairman Jason Sourasis was proud to see works officially get underway.

“This is a proud moment for WMG, the football club and the community who have been on this journey with us from the start,” he said.

“I am delighted that the first earth-moving vehicles are on site, we’re on our way now.

“Just to get to this point has been years of preparation and planning, and I’d like to thank our partner Wyndham City Council for their hard work and support.”

United CEO Chris Pehlivanis’ excitement was the overwhelming emotion as first soil was turned on the 62-hectare site.

“It’s fantastic that early works have commenced on the site, this is the biggest milestone for our Club to date,” Pehlivanis said.

“The best thing about our Western United community is their unwavering support and passion, this is a wonderful reward for all those who have been with us from the beginning.

“I’m excited. Get ready, from here on in, there will be plenty of moments to celebrate as we watch the precinct come to life with those on the journey with us – our loyal members, partners, footballers, staff, volunteers and fans.”

The club statement outlined that these works represented the first phase of a multi-phase approach to the construction of the precinct.

Phase one is expected to take 8-12 weeks to complete.

The haul road which is being established will provide the site access to water, gas, electricity and internet, as well as providing heavy vehicle access to the new stadiums’ exact location.

Liberty announced as major sponsor for A-League Women

A-League Women

The A-Leagues have announced non-bank lender Liberty as the first ever naming rights partner of the newly rebranded A-League Women’s competition for the 2021-22 season.

Commencing today, the multi-year deal includes naming rights partnership of the A-League Women’s competition, Final Series, and the Official Lending Partner of the A-Leagues. Liberty will also be an official Partner of the Isuzu UTE A League, A-League Youth and A-League eSports.

With the season beginning on Friday December 3, this partnership signifies a new dawn for elite football in Australia, as men’s and women’s competitions become partners at the top of the A-Leagues game – furthering football’s position as the country’s most inclusive sport to grow the game for everyone.

The investment also marks a milestone in women’s professional football, with interest in the game increasing in the lead up to the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 to be held in Australia and New Zealand.

Announcing the partnership, A-Leagues Managing Director Danny Townsend stated:

“The A-Leagues is proud and excited to welcome Liberty as a new naming rights partner. The team shares our passion for football, for diversity and for empowering women to pursue their dreams.

“We have seen a significantly expanding interest in women’s football – from grassroots through to the Matildas. By investing in women’s professional football through Liberty A-League, we offer more pathways for emerging players, ensuring our world-class competition is truly sustainable”.

Liberty CEO James Boyle was delighted to further the company’s support and involvement in Australian sport.

“Through the Liberty A-League we reaffirm our support for women in professional sport. We are passionate about helping to provide the platform that women’s football deserves.

“As a pioneer of financial inclusion, we support those who forge their own path, both on and off the field. The athletes currently playing in the Liberty A-League embody this spirit – they are the trailblazers at the top of their game.”

In another milestone, from Friday December 3, the A-Leagues will unify its Facebook and Instagram channels, reinforcing its commitment to providing the best football fan experience across all Leagues.

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