Policymakers consider football a great way of marketing climate-friendly measures to the broader populace. Complementary to this, professional German football had enshrined sustainability in its statues, and amateur football is now following suit.

“Taking climate protection to football clubs is a win-win situation for everyone and creates motivation far beyond the sidelines,” explained Oliver Krischer, state secretary of the German ministry for economy and climate protection.

Krischer’s ministry is working together with the ministry for the environment to fund the “NKI: Climate protection in amateur football – together on the way to a climate-friendly UEFA EURO 2024” project of the German football association (DFB) with €2 million over four years.

“With this project, the DFB can set an important course and give small clubs a helping hand with concrete recommendations for action,” Krischer said on 18 February.

Together with its regional associations, the DFB is currently developing an action plan to promote sustainability in amateur football, and the NKI project is set to play a pivotal role in these efforts.

In Germany, there are about 24,000 amateur football clubs, who can now apply to receive comprehensive guidelines and information on greenhouse gas reduction, a tool for calculating carbon footprints and training courses to support them “on their way to climate neutrality,” the press release by the ministries notes.

The call for funding is limited to associations and targets the municipal level.

“Climate protection is a task for society as a whole with many opportunities. Football inspires millions,” said Christian Kühn, parliamentary state secretary at the environment ministry.

“The project can make the consequences of the climate crisis, together with innovative solutions, more tangible because it starts concretely in everyday life: at one’s own football club,” he added.

For Germany, which seeks to rally support for its ambitious climate targets, getting to rural communities is crucial in helping to achieve the country’s transformation towards climate neutrality by 2045.

Now, amateur clubs can apply for a grant that “is awarded as a non-repayable subsidy.”

Split across two modules, the first is meant to fund innovative ideas for projects, and the second is to apply and scale up successful approaches.

“The central evaluation criteria for the outlines in Module 1 are the degree of innovation, the greenhouse gas reduction potential of the approach and the implementation orientation,” according to the project outline.

On the other hand, proven module 2 concepts are assessed based on “the project-specific climate protection contribution, the nationwide dissemination and the stabilisation potential.”

Nonetheless, the amount of own funding that applicants can contribute to the project will also play an essential role in the decision-making process.

Combining the call for projects with the well-known UEFA brand may also bolster applications.

“The project will receive additional attention through the framework of UEFA EURO 2024,” explained Heike Ullrich, deputy secretary-general of the DFB.

“Hosting a tournament not only means getting people excited about it, but also using the power of such an event to formulate important social goals and set an example – in this case, together for climate protection,” she added.

[Edited by Alice Taylor]