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Champions League final: Should Uefa be more flexible about host cities for environmental reasons?

Prices for flights from the UK to Porto rose steeply after the city was named as the new host for the 2021 Champions League final

For the fifth time in nine seasons the Champions League final will be contested by teams from the same country.

And for the fifth time in nine seasons, players, officials and supporters will travel en masse to a different country for European football’s showpiece event.

After much deliberation, Uefa moved the 29 May match between Manchester City and Chelsea from Istanbul to Porto because of coronavirus restrictions in Turkey, cutting travelling time and cost for fans in the process.

But having taken drastic action because of Covid, have they failed to suitably consider the environmental impact of thousands of supporters flying almost 1,000 miles for a game which could have been played in England?

Fans travelling to those past nine finals have sent an estimated 133m kg of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere – that’s the equivalent of burning 734 railway wagons worth of coal, or the contents of 1,761 fully loaded petrol tanker lorries. If those games had been played at a suitable neutral venue, that figure could have been cut to an estimated 27.723m kg – the same as saving the emissions from a whole year’s energy use by over 12,600 homes.

“The scale of these avoidable emissions is desperately disheartening,” said Andrew Simms, Rapid Transition Alliance co-ordinator and co-director of New Weather Institute.

“Getting real reductions means all of us doing things differently and we need rapid substitutions of clean energy and low impact behaviour, and not a slow, begrudging walk off the carbon pitch.”

Why does it matter?

The United Nations secretary general has called on every country to declare a climate emergency amid rising global temperatures and Uefa itself says “if action is not taken to significantly reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions, the impacts of climate change will continue to put future generations at risk”.

As part of that,…

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