Euro 2024: teams can cut emissions by 60% if they avoid flying

The European Football Championship is coming up, but whether the football tournament will also be ‘Wunderbar’ from an ecological point of view remains to be seen.

Although Euro 2024 bills itself as ‘the greenest ever’, football teams could also set a good example by, for example, traveling more sustainably and avoiding flying whenever possible.

Greenest championship ever

Euro 2024 for men will take place this year in Germany from 14 June to 14 July across ten cities. For this edition, the Union of European Football Associations (EUFA) aims to reduce its carbon footprint by addressing the mobility of both supporters and participating national teams. Most of the tournament’s emissions, 80%, come from transport.

UEFA and host Germany have, therefore, put a lot of effort into reducing transport emissions around the tournament. For example, they encourage supporters to travel by train to and within Germany, making this the greenest championship ever.

German national rail company Deutsche Bahn, for example, is offering match ticket holders cheap round-trip national train tickets and a subsidized InterRail pass for match ticket holders coming from outside Germany.

Only Germany and Switzerland do not fly

So far, however, the national teams are not leading by example. If participating teams chose not to take the plane for trips that could reasonably be made by train or bus, they could reduce their travel emissions by almost 60%, according to a new analysis by Travel Smart and the NGO Transport & Environment (T&E).

Germany and Switzerland are the only national teams to commit to not flying during the group phase. In doing so, Germany will save up to 98% of CO2.

Over the month-long competition, elite footballers like Kevin De Bruyne and Kylian Mbappe will pollute seven to nine times more through their transport emissions alone than what the average person emits over a whole month.

More flying

T&E also argues that UEFA’s efforts are incoherent in light of the fact the 2024-25 football season will see the biggest expansion of European games to date. Europe’s premier tournament, the Champions League, will go from 125 matches to 189. This will mean significantly more flying, so also more CO2 emissions.

Belgium’s Red Devils will take a plane to Stuttgart, 517 km from Brussels, on 12 June. A reasonable flight in good conditions takes about 2h45, the good half the time compared to traveling by train or bus. In the first game, they then head to Frankfurt for a clash with Slovakia on 17 June.

Brussels Airlines renewed its partnership with the Royal Belgian Football Association (KBVB) in 2021, making it ‘the official airline’ of both the Red Devils and Red Flames.

Heavy rain

The south of Germany has been hit by heavy rain since Friday. In Bavaria, water levels have reached levels that normally only occur once in a hundred years. The rainy weather continues to disrupt train traffic in the country. Among others, long-distance train traffic between Stuttgart and Munich has been interrupted. The likelihood of such extreme rainfall has increased due to climate change.


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