World Cup faces a whole new world of environmental issues

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First Posted: 6/24/2014

Right now, Brazil is hosting the 2014 World Cup, one of the most widely viewed sporting events in the world; it even exceeds the Olympics. To break it down simply, the World Cup is a tournament that involves 32 teams to compete for titles over a period of a month. The games started on June 12 and are now in full swing, becoming quite the topic of conversation. With teams from all over the world, the games bring in millions of both domestic and international tourists, all there to show support for their country’s team.

With any large sporting event that spans over a long period of time, there are downfalls and major negative effects on the environment. Remember the mess in Sochi, Russia during the 2014 Olympics? That was an environmental disaster. FIFA, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, is responsible for organizing the World Cup and pledged this year to keep it as green as possible. Previous World Cup tournaments were not so eco-friendly, so FIFA declared the 2014 World Cup in Brazil to be the first World Cup to have a comprehensive sustainability strategy.

With millions of tourists comes tons of waste. A new waste management law in Brazil is in place and intends on having better control when it comes to handling and finding a place to put all the waste. FIFA will make sure waste management in stadiums will be dealt with according to the new regulations. FIFA is also promoting recycling by having recycling bins placed throughout the stadiums and venues used in the games.

A lot of the buildings and stadiums used in this year’s World Cup are considered green. Solar panels have been installed on roofs in order to generate renewable energy, and many stadiums are LEED, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, certified. Many stadium managers were also required to attend a certified training course on sustainable management.

The environmental makeover wasn’t cheap, costing $390 million for all of the upgrades. New eco-lighting systems have been added, rainwater pitch irrigation, and, of course, the solar panels as mentioned earlier. The new rainwater pitch irrigation system captures rain that is then used for irrigation and toilet flushing. If treated properly, it can even be used as drinking water. The main stadium, the Maracanã in Rio de Janeiro (also the most famous soccer stadium in the world), unveiled intelligent bathrooms, urinals that only pump water during breaks. The City Hall in Brazil’s Belo Horizonte claims they are recycling all debris used in construction, turning concrete into streets and donating old seats to smaller stadiums.

“We are going beyond what’s ever been done before,” explained Federico Addiechi, FIFA’s head of Corporate Social Responsibility. “The ultimate goal is to stage an event that uses resources wisely, striking a balance between economic aspects, social development, and environmental protection.”

The World Cup wants to have a positive influence on fans and hopes to change attitudes in favor of living a more sustainable life.

“If we start with small acts in our own homes, this could plant the seeds of a new reality,” said Addiechi. “This FIFA World Cup is already making a difference in Brazil.”