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Climate change: Can football cope?

Copyrights: Gabriel Tabona

Climate change: Can football cope?

Climate change has affected every other sphere of life. Football cannot ignore it, but can identify its effect on consumer experience.

Ever since the Industrial Revolution, the world has encountered a myriad of challenges resulting from global warming, a phenomenon attributed to harmful human activities that have negatively affected the environment thus threatening mankind. Climate change has drastically changed world’s weather patterns, leaving emerging economies with lower GDPs grappling with drought and famine. Mainly the issue of resources comes into the picture when speaking about environmental degradation. The spotlight is normally directed to human-wildlife conflict, human-human conflict and cultural practices that threaten the existence of the world eco-system.

In the world of football, most match broadcasters now display the climate conditions under which matches are played prior to every fixture, while coaches are using meteorological reports to prepare against their opponents so as to help their players cope. The unique makeup of climate change once saw countries with altitudes at 2,000 metres above sea level stopped from hosting international football matches by FIFA . Yet, despite overturning the decision, players have been seen using oxygen masks during specific periods of a game hence inspiring the introduction of ‘cooling breaks’ to alleviate the effects of heat during a match. It took effect during the 2017 CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup in Kenya to allow players to rehydrate,a precedent that was set by Brazil when they hosted  the FIFA 2014 World Cup.

Despite providing measures to prevent excessive heat through ice facilities at venues during the 2022 World Cup, Qatar’s hosting of the global showpiece continues to draw skepticism among football authorities and experts. It is not surprising that FIFA and other governing bodies such as the IOC usually develop sustainability reports to analyse how their activities impact Planet Earth from small things such as air travel of fans and officials, communication, marketing activities as well as construction of football facilities.

It is therefore important to have a co-creation of sorts between governing bodies, policymakers, sponsors, coaches, sports medicine experts and environmentalists to develop a body of knowledge that will ensure spectators and player safety is guaranteed. This will provide them with an opportunity to analyse risks either at political, cultural or technological perspectives which will shape how football will be consumed in the future while taking cognisance of safeguarding Mother Nature.

[This article has been edited by the Operating Team.]

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Tuesday, May 15, 2018 - 15:09