Can football save the planet ?

Good article from the Beeb on how footie clubs, players and fans are taking action on the environment:

Can football save the planet?
By Sarah Holt

Legendary manager Bill Shankly reckoned football was more important than life and death, but where does it stand on saving the planet?

The sport takes its toll on the environment by motivating thousands of fans to travel to matches, its stadiums guzzle huge amounts of energy and its star players can afford to live a consumerist life in the fast lane.

BBC Sport looks at just what is being done to reduce the impact football has on the global climate…

….By October 2007 Manchester City will be producing its own energy.

City is building a wind turbine to provide all the electricity for Eastlands, with a further 20% sold on, though the club will still run the floodlights from generators.

“We will be the first stadium of any kind in the world to have its own turbine,” City’s social responsibility manager, Pete Bradshaw, told BBC Sport.

City are also making good use of all the rubbish off the pitch, turning glass into footpaths, grass cuttings into compost, paper into insulation and plastic cups and bottles – all 8 million of them per season – into blinds and furniture.

“We recycle 90-100% of everything we use,” explained Richards.

“This club grew out of Manchester. As a responsible community business it’s important for us that the environment is on our agenda. It’s essential.”

Arsenal and Middlesbrough are also considering installing wind turbines, while Liverpool run a scheme that rewards youngsters who pick up litter with match tickets… The Liverpool sweeper - sign him up !

… With cash to splash on thirsty sports cars, long-haul holidays and sizeable pads, it is hard to see footballers fretting over whether they have sorted their recycling properly.

What is undeniable, however, is that footballers are global role models and if the sport is to go green then the glamour boys need to get on board.

“Rightly or wrongly people look up to footballers,” said De Vos. “If we can do our part to get the message across that can only benefit the environment.

“I think we have an obligation because of the status we hold.”

Amongst the elite players, England and Portsmouth goalkeeper David James has emerged as an environmental evangelist and is keen to strike an ethical compromise between success and consumerism.

“The are one or two gas guzzlers at the club but generally we’re pretty good,” James told the BBC.

“You can’t stop people wanting to drive fast cars but there is an argument that the bigger car you drive, the higher tax you pay which would go to environmental causes.”

For his part, James has converted his mammoth Chrysler car to run on rapeseed oil or “grow your own fuel,” as he calls it.

The stopper also recycles, grows his own vegetables, is restoring his Devon farmhouse and set up the David James Foundation to nurture sustainable agricultural projects in Malawi.

“We do contribute to greenhouse gases and so there is no reason why football as a fraternity across the globe can’t help.”

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