Blog: Dean BestFootball versus the environment

Dean Best | 18 May 2007

Wembley. One of the most iconic sports and entertainment venues in the world.

You don’t have to be an avid follower of football (or soccer to our US readers) to have memories of Wembley, which has held events ranging from rugby to Live Aid.

However, Wembley has always been synonymous with the FA Cup, the leading and most historic club football competition in the world. And now after seven years of rebuilding – and an eye-watering GBP800m (US$1.6bn) – Wembley is finally ready for the final of this year’s competition, which takes place tomorrow (19 May).

But while football fans here in England count down the hours to the big event (and I’m sure even our Scottish and Welsh cousins might even be a little bit interested), there are some using the event, rather tediously, to highlight the consumption habits of the average fan. And what’s more, highlighting how 90,000 fans – and their consumption of pies, pasties and beer – could hurt the environment tomorrow.

Cardiff University, which carried out an analysis of the environmental impact of the 2004 final,  has reportedly undertaken similar research on tomorrow’s game. According to The Guardian newspaper today, each fan's eco-footprint will be almost 10 times the level it would be if they watch the game at home.

Pies, pasties and beer are, allegedly, the main culprit. "They are highly processed food and drink products which require a lot of energy to produce," Andrea Collins, of Cardiff University, told The Guardian.

I have a disclosure to make, dear reader. I shall be one of the 90,000 attending tomorrow. (And no, I won’t say who I support for fear of alienating some of you).

Sustainability and the impact the food industry has on the environment is a key issue to all of us in the trade, and a topic covered almost daily on our news pages.

But, is it me or could research like this serve to undermine efforts to alert consumers to the effects their habits have on the environment? It’s debatable whether most people are yet to fully embrace environmental issues. And some may grow tired of continuously being told that one day’s enjoyment could harm the planet.

Predictions of my “eco-footprint” tomorrow – and the game’s scoreline – are most welcome.


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