FIFA, Brazil, and Corporate Social Responsibility: World Cup 2014

As FIFA and host country Brazil prepare to host the world’s largest sporting event, the FIFA World Cup, this summer, it is estimated that they will play host to record crowds that will be traveling as far as 5,000 kilometers for a single match. All of this traveling and influx of additional people will increase the country’s carbon footprint, rather dramatically.

Original FIFA estimates say that the tournament will produce approximately 3.4 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e), a 26% increase from what the last World Cup CO2e emissions produced in South Africa. In all of the excitement of the World Cup very few everyday fans even think to consider what the environmental impact will be on the region. These estimates are only inclusive of travel for staff, players and spectators during and prior to the tournament – if the additional emissions produced from all of the construction on the stadiums and additional preparations were included, the estimates would be much higher.

There are ways to “offset” CO2e emissions with various forms of renewable energy programs and forestation programs, among others, that can be funded with carbon credits. According to Eduardo Valente, an official working with the Brazilian Environmental Ministry on the program for the World Cup, the country has no plans to purchase additional carbon credits.

We talked to some holders of credits and they were receptive to the idea of donating the credits.

According to Reuters, the Brazilian government will only be accepting certified emission reductions (CER’s) from Brazil-based projects of the U.N.’s Clean Development Mechanisms (CMD’s). The Brazilian government announced that they are launching a program that will offer  publicity in the tournament’s “official documents” in exchange for companies offering up their carbon credits in order to offset the CO2e emissions. This presents a nice opportunity for companies that might not be able to afford a FIFA World Cup sponsorship deal to get some brand recognition at one of the largest global events, albeit on a smaller scale than would a normal event sponsorship deal, and it does not hurt to get your name associated with sustainability efforts either. Ernesto Cavasin, president of Brazil’s Association of Carbon Market Companies (Abemc), said that the program was a step in the right direction but did not think it would be enough to get the job done:

I didn’t see much stimulus to reduce emissions during the preparation. Brazil should have pushed for green technologies on areas such as lightning, waste management and energy, and it could use credits from those projects to neutralize the Cup’s emissions.

FIFA, on the other hand, has said that it will purchase the necessary carbon credits to offset its CO2e emissions from the event. They also just announced that fans planning to attend the tournament can sign up to have their emissions offset as well, funded by FIFA in partnership with BP Target Neutral. Ticket holders worldwide can go online and sign up to have their carbon footprint neutralized and will be entered to win a set of tickets to the final match. BP Target Neutral estimates that around 50,000 fans will sign up for the program.

One of the consumer groups most concerned with corporate social responsibility programs and topics such as green energy and sustainability are Millenials (people born between early-mid 1980s-early 2000s), which just also happens to be one of the most crucial target audiences for soccer. This initiative was smart from FIFA, and while it represents yet another cost for the organization related to the World Cup, it should serve to associate themselves quite positively with a cause that matters to their consumers – never a bad thing. Cause marketing is definitely on the rise in many industries and companies are beginning to seize those opportunities to capitalize on this trend – why should soccer be any different?


What do you think about the impact that the World Cup will have on Brazil’s carbon footprint and the programs in place to offset those emissions? Let us know in the comments section below, or via Facebook or Twitter.

Reporting on the business side of the world's game.