World’s top 20 footballers produce 505 tonnes in CO2 through flights

Football must look at its environmental effect, says leading expert
Footballers produce more than three times the average CO2 emission of a normal person
Cristiano Ronaldo would have to cut down his emissions by 95% to stop climate change
Expert calls on football to consider alternative travel methods

Sporting institutions such as the Premier League and FIFA need to be doing more to combat climate change, says a leading industry expert.

New research has shown the damage the world’s leading footballers are doing to the environment by racking up thousands of air miles in travel to and from matches, with one player producing over 50t CO2 in carbon emissions in travel himself.

Of the world’s top 20 footballers in 2019, PSG star Marquinhos has travelled roughly 110,000km via plane in international and European fixtures alone to make him the biggest culprit in terms of emissions, while Cristiano Ronaldo has travelled just 25,000km - but his 25.6t is still well above average.

With climate change a hotter topic now than ever before, Andrew Welfle from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of Manchester, has called on sporting organisations to lead from the front and help cut down on the excessive travel methods which are causing such damage to the planet.

He told Eco-Friendly Footballers, a study into the environmental impact of the world’s leading players: “I think the image of organisations such as the Premier League, FIFA and individual clubs is an important issue to discuss.

“If a light was to shine on these institutes I have no doubt they would do more, faster to reduce their impacts.”

He added: “The nature of the football sector where teams travel can regularly travel great distances for fixtures, in addition to having international playing staff and managers how frequently fly to get between their homes and places of work - is a recipe for a high carbon footprint.

“These emissions are large and when you take into consideration football fans also sometimes travelling by air, the impact will probably be several magnitudes bigger.”

“If clubs were to reduce their use of private jets and impose this policy (of alternative travel methods) on their staff, this could also be a pathway to radically reduce GHG emissions in the near term.”

Some of the results are made more shocking when compared to alternative uses for the energy used.

For example, the carbon emissions produced by Roberto Firmino’s travel could is equivalent to the amount of energy used over the course of a year for six homes, while Tottenham’s Son Heung-min’s 45.1t CO2 could alternatively be used to charge 5,750,806 smartphones.

Eco-Friendly Footballers uses European and international away trips to calculate the effect the leading players in the world (using the 2019 Ballon d’Or shortlist) are having on the environment.

For more information view the full breakdown here: