A former UEFA chief wants to ban supporters from attending Champions League, Europa League and Conference League matches to help battle climate change.
An additional 177 matches will be played across the three competitions next season due to expansion plans and there are growing concerns about what impact the extra flights will have on the planet. Teams and fans are expected to collectively clock up around two billion air miles across the campaign.
UEFA's former head of social responsibility, Patrick Gasser, has proposed preventing away supporters from going to games as a possible counter measure. "We know that travel creates the biggest carbon footprint in or around football," he said.
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"I would make an exception for the finals. I think we need to look at fundamental behaviour change and that would be a good way to start."
Gasser, who worked for UEFA for 22 years, said the idea had been discussed "at the executive committee level" but was not approved or pursued "as far as I can see". He admitted the move would be unpopular, but insisted it was the right thing to do for the planet.
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"I think if you're serious about sustainability and making our sustainable contribution to fight climate change, this would be one of the measures you should implement," he said. Obviously, this will not delight supporters. But as a global society we need to start to make fundamental behaviour changes.
"One of the arguments against it would be you would lose a bit of atmosphere in the stadium. But for the sake of the climate… if we look at the past summer, all the wildfires, the different disasters, it is starting to [have an] impact."
According to the BBC, football teams and fans across the continent racked up up over 1.5billion air miles during the 22/23 season. This equates to around 370,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.
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This figure is expected to rise to 480,000 tonnes next season with the additional fixtures. The expansion comes just three years after an extra 63 matches were added with the introduction of the Conference League.
The PFA's sustainability spokesperson, David Wheeler, recently accused UEFA of a "dereliction of duty" over its climate impact. "They are not leading on this – they are not separate to society. Everything they do has an impact on the environment," he said.
"Instead of being a positive force for good they are exacerbating the problem and pushing us towards a very serious situation with a climate emergency."
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