Fifa’s carbon neutral world cup was a sham and a con trick



By Tony Attwood

It was one of the big boasts of Fifa that it was putting on a carbon-neutral world cup in Qatar.  At the time many of us wondered how they were doing that, given the amount of air conditioning that was required, along with all the flights, the building of the stadia and ever more hotels.   We know that the workers had terrible conditions and no air conditioning for them, but for the Fifarians and their guests, well, those hotels took a bit of building.

But are Fifa simply making statements up, and then hoping that no one bothers to ask any questions (or perhaps thinking that they got away with a con trick of mega proportions and no one is worried anymore)?

Well, the Climate Lawyers Association and the Swiss Climate Alliance have been working together on the issue and have now come out publicly not just to say Fifa got it wrong (which other countries have already done), but to file a criminal complaint.

Details have been reported in where it is stated that the two bodies have jointly demanded that the Swiss federal authorities investigate the possibilty of filing a criminal complaint against Fifa over its misleading assertions.  Sadly it seems that the English and Welsh newspapers are not interested even though their countries’ national teams played in Qatar.

Following the carbon neutral assertion made in advertisements for the World Cup was series of ch complaints were made to the “Swiss Loyalty Commission”, an institution responsible for assessing whether commercial messages comply with the laws – thus roughly the equivalent of the Advertising Standards Authority in the UK.

Now it is important to note that Fifa has already been found guilty of greenwashing by the Swiss Loyalty Commission which ruled in favour of a group of environmental associations from five European countries, which together filed a complaint against the carbon neutrality claims and promises made by Fifa.

It is also worth noting that while Fifa claimed at the start that this would be a carbon-neutral world cup and then after the event that it had been a carbon-neutral world cup, no serious evidence was put forward to back up either claim.   Which is rather suspicious.  A bit like all those articles in the Daily Mirror and on its website in which a journalist is quoted as saying “I have heard that…”

Anyway, back to the plot, in November 2022, complaints were filed against Fifa for “unfair competition” following the announcement that it had been  “a carbon-neutral World Cup”. 

The argument was then put that in calculating carbon dioxide emissions Fifa had for its own benefit Fifa had “forgotten to take into account the 500 daily flights which allowed supporters to move between Dubai, Riyadh and Kuwait with Qatar.”   And yes that is right: 500 daily flights through the world cup which were not happening before and have not happened since the event.  They were in every sense of the phrase, extra flights due entirely and exclusively to the world cup.

There was also hardly any mention of the cost in terms of C02 emissions of the construction of seven new stadia. 

It is possible, although I have no proof of it, that Fifa is leaning on the football associations in some countries to try and ensure that the story about Fifa’s lies in terms of the carbon neutrality of the world cup are not reported.  A threat along the lines of “if your country makes a big deal of this, you can forget about getting any more Fifa tournaments in your country”.

Let me stress I don’t have evidence of course – this is a blog run by a group of friends, not a paper with teams of investigative journalists.  But it is noteworthy that the Swiss Climate Alliance has said, “Companies and organizations like Fifa can no longer avoid looking at their real climate footprint.”

Qatar was in fact the first world cup where this issue was brought up, and the argument is now being made in Switzerland that “Fifa’s behavior may indeed represent an infringement of the Unfair Competition Law, which constitutes an offense.”   The matter is now in the hands of the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs.

Whatever the outcome Fifa will shrug it all off, secure in the notion that countries like England are forever lining up to host another world cup, not for the benefit of football, or their own country, but so they can share in the ludicrous banquet which is what the world cup basically is.

England via the FA and the Premier League ought to recognise what Switzerland has said, and consider how they too are going to hold Fifa to account.

3 Replies to “Fifa’s carbon neutral world cup was a sham and a con trick”

  1. I like the Swiss, they call out Fifa every time on their hypocrisy. They’re not afraid to take them on, unlike the cowards of the FA and the English government. All because they want to suck on the teat of their cashcow. But as you have numerously pointed out throughout the years , where’s the British papers on this? Somewhere along the line the the press have either been warned off or bought off on the scandal that is Fifa. It’s why I no longer buy papers , they do not do investigative reporting anymore , just the latest scandal in all it’s glory several times over. I stopped believing in the papers and more importantly the Premier league/ FA after the debacle of the unbeaten run coming to an end against manu.

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