The aim is to find sustainable innovations in the field of mobility and waste processing. How can the CO2 footprint of supporters and teams be reduced when travelling to and from their stadiums and clubs? And how can waste in and around stadiums and clubs be reduced and made more circular? Preferably, these solutions should not hinder the experience of supporters but make it more pleasant.
Solutions can be submitted via an online platform that can be freely accessed by everyone. The football community and other organisations can use the Football Innovation Platform to exchange knowledge, find inspiration and devise solutions together. This is the first of three challenges that the European football organisations will be organising over the coming year. Other themes include fan experience, sports participation and performance.
Over 1.2 million football supporters in the Netherlands travel to one of the 33,000 indoor or outdoor football matches every week. Over 565 million kilometres are travelled every season in the amateur leagues. This football-related traffic is responsible for 48,635 tonnes of CO2 emissions. The KNVB has devised various initiatives for reducing these emissions. For instance, fixtures are compiled while taking travelled distance into account, without compromising the competitiveness of each league. In addition, focus is being placed on environment-friendly travel, smart charging stations, car sharing and travel by bike.
The Johan Cruijff ArenA is one of the most sustainable stadiums in the world, partly thanks to solar panels on the roof and re-used batteries (from electric cars) for energy storage. Thanks to a special bio-fermenter, the ArenA will soon be the first football stadium in the world that partly runs on self-generated energy from local food waste. Nonetheless, the stadium is facing various sustainability challenges, like further reducing waste production and making it more circular. The stadium produces around 286,000 kilograms of waste each year. Almost 60% of this waste is residual waste, which is equivalent to around three ounces of waste per visitor.
Successful innovation programme ‘Reimagine Football’
In 2020, the first challenge by the Football Innovation Platform focused on the impact of COVID-19 under the ‘Reimagine Football’ programme. The football organisations successfully tested and used potential innovations concerning fan experience, stadium operation and playing under COVID-19 restrictions.
For instance, visitors to the Johan Cruijff ArenA can use the VOGO app to re-watch matches on their smartphones. The Close app ensures direct communication with visitors and crowd control during the COVID-19 pandemic and afterwards, and was also used for the matches of the Dutch national team and the ArenA Tour. The app features information about scheduling tests, practical information about e.g. parking, time slots and tickets, as well as fun content like photo filters, a live score feature, a quiz and exclusive images.
Reimagine Football is an initiative by the KNVB, the Johan Cruijff ArenA, City Football Group, AFC Ajax and UEFA, and is being co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund.