PRESS RELEASE: Fossil Free Football Stands with World Leagues Association and FIFPRO in Fight Against Overloaded Football Calendar

Fossil Free Football, a fan-led group campaigning for serious climate action in football, supports the World Leagues Association and FIFPRO in their call for FIFA to reconsider its planned calendar expansion and properly prioritise player well-being. Scaling up competitions is entirely inappropriate given the negative impact on both overburdened players and an overheating planet. 

Ongoing addition of matches not only directly endangers the safety of players but expands football’s deep environmental impact just as it must be cut back. More and bigger international tournaments means more polluting flights (UEFA’s expanded club calendar will add 500 million air miles in one season) and (often unnecessary) stadium construction. The pollution caused by this expansion threatens the grassroots communities on which the sport depends. Putting deeper strain on players and the planet is an abdication of FIFA’s and UEFA’s commitment to cut emissions by 50% by 2030 under the UN Sports for Climate Action Framework and safeguard the people and communities who make football possible.

Peter Crisp of Fossil Free Football said that “FIFA must listen to the clear warning signs from players and the only planet that we can play football on and realise that this is not the time for more matches. The Premier League warns of a calendar ‘tipping point’, while stretched players are speaking out about injury risks and burnout. At the same time, record smashing high temperatures and extreme weather events like deadly flooding in Brazil make it clear that football’s pollution footprint must be cut back and not increased”

Fossil Free Football urges FIFA to use its upcoming congress to address serious concerns about the football calendar. This congress is also the first after FIFA announced a deal with the world’s biggest polluter, Saudi Aramco (see our response). It will take place in a country going through a deadly heat wave and one of the candidates to organise the 2027 Women’s World Cup, Brazil, is currently dealing with the effects of an awful climate disaster.  

So at this Congress, Infantino and other football leaders must change course. They need to place the near and longer term wellbeing of players, fans and football lovers worldwide at the centre of their thinking and realise that endless expansion is neither realistic nor welcome. Instead, the football schedule must be developed in consultation with all stakeholders, prioritise the health of players and minimise the sport’s environmental footprint to protect the grassroots and communities everywhere. 

FIFA, as well as UEFA, should turn its attention towards developing a smaller, regionalised football calendar that makes the game accessible and affordable to football fans while reducing its climate impact. 

Fossil Free Football is a group of football fans committed to highlighting and breaking up football’s deep links with the big polluters that threaten the future of the sport and the communities on which it relies. 

For media inquiries, please contact Peter Crisp, campaigner Fossil Free Football, peter@fossilfreefootball, +31 6 20 14 29 82.