To mark the 60th anniversary of the European Championship, UEFA announced in 2019 that it would be “a celebration of European football across the continent” with matches set to take place in London, Munich, Rome, Amsterdam, Budapest, Bucharest, Seville, Glasgow, Copenhagen, Baku and St Petersburg.

However, this will undoubtedly have an environmental impact.

Although the seating capacity in stadiums will be reduced due to the pandemic, the travel of teams and fans will rack up significant distances. The Swiss team and its fans, for instance, would have to travel 21,656km in total if the team were to reach the final, according to the BBC.

However, UEFA has promised that the event will be “the most environmentally friendly championship to date”.

The organisation argues that by dropping the tradition of having a single country host the championship there was “no need to build new stadiums or the transport links they require” – an infrastructural development that would normally have a “considerable environmental impact.”

Offsetting thousands of tons of carbon

As for the emissions created by team and fan travel, UEFA says it will offset the “hundreds of thousands of tonnes of carbon that will be produced” during the tournament by investing in renewable energy projects.

It will do so in partnership with Swiss carbon finance consultancy South Pole, which have been awarded the Gold Standard label which certifies carbon offset projects that aim to achieve permanent CO2 reductions.

UEFA has also announced that it will plant 50,000 trees in each of the Euro 2020 host countries to “leave a lasting legacy of this competition”.

However, according to Green MEP and chair of the European Parliament’s Transport Committee, Karima Delli, Euro 2020 is a “total environmental nonsense” in the face of the climate emergency, newspaper La Dépêche has reported.

“The subject is a sensitive one, but unfortunately it is not based on a scientific debate”, said Antoine Miche, president of Football Écologie France – an association that helps football clubs encourage players and fans to become more eco-responsible.

A great opportunity

In any case, Euro 2020 offers a great opportunity to make the sport more eco-responsible, he said, adding that it would be an “interesting moment of exposure” that would “make the fans think”.

Football Écologie France is currently running its #tousecosupporters social media campaign to showcase the footballers who are committed to the cause. The aim is to show that clubs and their players are committed and that the community of supporters also has “the capacity to change things on a daily basis in a very concrete way,” Miche explained.

[Edited by Benjamin Fox]