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World Cup Soccer – How Green is the World Cup?
The Soccer World Cup (Soccer anywhere in the world except the USA) is now officially underway.
Described as the biggest sporting event in the world, the World Cup generates extraordinary emotions. The fan base is huge and worldwide, and many loyal soccer fans like to travel to watch their teams compete. This means large numbers of spectators and players flying to South Africa, staying in hotels, being transported to newly built stadiums, creating a huge increase in demand for South Africa’s largely coal-based energy. The unfortunate result is that the world’s biggest sporting event will leave one of the world’s biggest carbon footprints. The EU Infrastructure Group has estimated that the 2010 World Cup will generate 2.75 million tonnes of CO2, 6 times more than the last World Cup held in Germany four years ago.
But it’s not all bad from an environmental perspective. There are some very green aspects to this year’s World Cup. For example, consider the uniforms worn by Team USA. The outstanding t-shirts are made from a high-performance material produced from recycled plastic bottles. The double-knit fabric is more flexible and stretchy than other fibers and the resulting jersey is 15 percent lighter than a standard football shirt. There’s also high-tech ventilation built into the sides created by hundreds of tiny laser-cut holes. Other teams using these high-tech, recycled jerseys are Australia, Brazil, Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Serbia, Slovenia and South Korea. In total, about 13 million bottles were diverted from landfills to make the uniforms. How’s that for going green?
Public transport to take fans to and from stadiums will reduce traffic and emissions pollution. Recycling and composting are also strongly encouraged.
Events like the World Cup are meant to be enjoyed, and they should be. I think there is a social good that comes from international sporting competitions and there are cultural benefits from the experience of international travel. The games also create a lot of personal satisfaction for fans (and a little angst!). We need to be aware of the environmental impact of events like the World Cup and take steps to mitigate that impact by good management, but I’m all for keeping these events as part of our world culture. Life is also meant to be enjoyed, and if people weren’t going to South Africa to watch football matches, they would likely be traveling elsewhere on holiday.
And fortunately, the impact is temporary. Once the World Cup month is over, everyone goes home and life returns to a semblance of normalcy. But maybe high-tech jerseys will catch on!
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