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ECA Unveils First-Ever Sustainability Strategy to Transform European Football.

Roger Hampel


ECA Sustainability
ECA Sustainability

The European Club Association (ECA) has officially launched its first comprehensive Sustainability Strategy. This strategic initiative marks a crucial step in addressing some of the most pressing challenges facing the sport and the broader global community, including climate change, racism, and social exclusion.


A Commitment to Change


ECA Chairman Nasser Al-Khelaïfi emphasized the urgency of prioritizing sustainability, stating, "Sustainability must be a priority for all stakeholders. Our sport faces huge challenges...growing more urgent by the day." The association is taking proactive measures to minimize the impact on its members and support clubs in implementing local solutions.


Strategic Developments and Leadership


The strategy's rollout gained momentum last year with the appointment of Gaia Pretner as Head of Sustainability and the formation of a pan-European ECA Sustainability Working Group. Led by Niclas Carlnén, CEO of Malmö FF and ECA Board Member, the group has been instrumental in shaping the strategy to act as a role model for member clubs.


Carlnén expressed the strategy's significance: "It not only shows our dedication to joining the broader shift towards sustainable and responsible practices but also serves the objective of ECA to act as a role model for its member clubs."


Comprehensive Approach and Education


ECA's approach includes leading by example to inspire and empower clubs to take sustainability seriously. This initiative is reflected in their decision to make sustainability one of the eight key pillars for their upcoming strategic cycle. The ECA has also conducted comprehensive sustainability training for its entire workforce and extended this education to its member clubs through highly attended webinars.


Detailed Strategy and Objectives


The ECA's five-step sustainability approach involves creating a dedicated structure focused on sustainability, defining a vision aligned with good governance, and assessing impacts to establish clear priorities and targets. Additionally, the strategy emphasizes the importance of publicizing sustainability strategies to ensure transparency and adopting cross-functional initiatives that enhance training and communication on sustainability principles.


The strategy also outlines key social objectives, including combating racial discrimination, providing safe environments for children, and promoting inclusion and accessibility. Environmental objectives focus on optimizing product life cycles, taking climate action, minimizing the environmental impact of events, and providing guidance on infrastructure sustainability.


Partnership with UEFA and Future Goals


A strategic partnership with UEFA is central to implementing this strategy. Carlnén noted the importance of this collaboration: "Our strategic partnership with UEFA is key...it was essential to harmonize our sustainability policy areas with UEFA's 'Strength Through Unity' Sustainability Strategy."


Gaia Pretner highlighted the strategy's concrete, measurable policies and objectives: "We aim to showcase our dedication through concrete, measurable policies, objectives, and KPIs. Our goal is to elevate European football's sustainability approach."


Conclusion


The launch of the ECA Sustainability Strategy is a pivotal moment in European football. It not only reflects a shift towards more sustainable practices within the sport but also sets a benchmark for global sports organizations. By integrating sustainability into the core strategy of football organizations, ECA is paving the way for a more responsible and inclusive future in sports.

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