FIFA's head of sustainability has admitted that climate change is already seriously impacting the game ©FIFA

FIFA has underlined to the European Parliament (EP) its commitment to improving sustainability in sport, with its head of sustainability, Federico Addiechi, acknowledging that climate change is a threat to football itself.

"(Climate change) is already impacting the ability for football to be played due to extreme weather patterns around the world, which are affecting the health and wellbeing of players and participants, and they are becoming an existential threat in the territories of some of our member associations," he said.

Addiechi was addressing the EP Sports Group during the session "Environmental sustainability in sport", where he explained how FIFA’s approach to sustainability has evolved over the last years.

He said it was now "impossible for sustainability not to be an integral and major part of any bid for sporting events going forward".

Addiechi, who acknowledged that the impact of FIFA’s major tournaments was "substantial", explained that the governing body had a three-fold responsibility when it came to climate change.

The first was to analyse and quantify the impact of FIFA's activities and identify realistic and ambitious scenarios that would help FIFA in its reduction plan towards 2030 and a net zero path to 2040.

These goals are enshrined in FIFA’s climate strategy, launched by its President Gianni Infantino at COP26 in Glasgow, and are aligned with the UN Sports for Climate Action Framework, of which FIFA was one of the first signatories.

Secondly, Addiechi said that FIFA had a responsibility to use the reach and impact of its tournaments to raise awareness about the importance and need for climate action.

Federico Addiechi acknowledged that the impact of FIFA's major tournaments on climate change was "substantial" ©FIFA
Federico Addiechi acknowledged that the impact of FIFA's major tournaments on climate change was "substantial" ©FIFA

The third was to recognise the threat to football itself which he highlighted.

Addiechi added that the effects of climate change affected the way that FIFA engages with stakeholders and the future of the game.

"While I believe that our organisation has been at the forefront of a comprehensive integration of sustainability in the world of sport over the past decades and has the ambition to continue leading that field in the world of sport, I am also aware of the fact that the challenges that we’re facing in this climate crisis are huge," he said.

He explained that when the FIFA World Cup 2022 was awarded to Qatar, in 2010, the bidding process did not include stringent sustainability requirements like the ones required since 2016.

However, he said that thanks to the joint efforts of FIFA and local organisers, Qatar delivered one of the most comprehensive sustainability works in sport, leaving a positive legacy for social, economic and environmental stewardship in the country and region.

The event was organised by the EP Sports Group and led by MEP Tomasz Frankowski, MEP Tiziana Beghin and MEP Viola von Cramon-Taubadel, who moderated the discussions.

Nicole Mündelein, coordinator, Host City Working Group Sustainability for UEFA EURO 2024, and Riikka Rakic, head of sustainability, International Biathlon Union (IBU) also took part in the discussion.