21 Mar 2022

ESG and Football

Football fans around the world know which football clubs are in the top divisions in their respective leagues but do they know which football clubs are in the Environment, Social, Governance (‘’ESG’’) top division?

ESG has become increasingly important for every industry in the world, so it comes as no surprise that ‘’the most important secondary thing in the world’’ is also largely influenced by ESG.  Clubs have adopted ESG strategies in their businesses to show their commitment to sustainability within their communities.

Football clubs have large profits. Meanwhile, ESG is financial in its essence. The concept underlines that responsible business practices will result in more revenue in the long run.   Hence, all top football clubs are exposed to ESG risks. If these are not managed appropriately, they may damage a club’s reputation and ultimately decrease its profitability.  Additionally, the global popularity of football clubs enables them to lead by example and create positive change.

In Spain, the biggest rivals on the football pitch are playing on the same team in the game of ESG.  F.C. Barcelona’s Camp Nou stadium renovation, which will be completed in 2023, will make it the most sustainable stadium in the world.  The electricity will come from green sources, recycled paper will be used, lightning will be controlled by motion sensors and the training ground will be watered from a local canal.  Meanwhile, Real Madrid CF has converted all its training pitches to artificial turf which requires no watering or chemicals.

However,  clubs are linked to sectors that have been identified as high-risk.  For example, they are a part of lengthy supply chains, which must be managed ethically.  It might come as a surprise that some of the top football clubs are not highly ranked in the ESG scoring.

Over to Italy and Juventus, one of Italy’s oldest and most successful football clubs received an ESG rating of “E+ Under Monitoring” despite the fact that it incorporated some ESG elements into its business.  The low rating may be a result of the ’’Suarez case’’ as this was a very controversial situation.  Another reason could be the investigation by the Turin Public Prosecutor’s Office on Juventus financial statements.  This clearly shows how important individuals can be for a football club or any kind of organization in general, and how their behavior can have a huge impact on ESG.

Apart from the ‘’E’’ element of the ESG, football clubs are also active in social responsibility programs.  It is common that clubs have local community projects to encourage a healthier lifestyle and many of them focus on social inclusion.  They are giving everyone the same opportunity to benefit from sports by reaching out to children in underprivileged neighborhoods and encouraging female participation in sports.

To conclude, it is extremely positive that the football clubs have become ESG aware and that they are all working on implementing as many ESG standards as possible.   Hopefully, we can all agree on one – No matter who we support, we can support the initiatives that clubs are taking in order to help the ESG concept develop. Finally, many famous football websites started publishing the ESG football ranking lists, so anyone can check out where their beloved club stands on the ‘’ESG league’’ rankings.



Milica Novaković, Marko Đorđević, Ognjen Pećanac