Nathalie Boy de la Tour, President of the French Professional Football League, declared at a conference on the theme of CSR in the world of soccer, organized by News Tank Football, in February 2020, that CSR was "an integral part of the DNA of soccer".

If the eminently social aspect of this sport supports these words, the environmental aspect has long struggled to be taken into account, particularly because of the high carbon impact inherent in the practice: travel every three days, maintenance of stadiums, training grounds and lawns.

However, more than a simple concern, it is now a real necessity for the clubs inherent to their economic development.

According to a study by the sustainability report, "83% of fans are now concerned about the impact of their club on the environment.

In addition, advertisers and sponsors are giving more and more importance to the environmental and social image sent by the clubs and their players, as shown by the recent statements of Antoine Griezmann or Megan Rapinoe, to name but a few.

It is for this reason that the professional soccer league is setting up more and more actions, which Nathalie Boy de la Tour was keen to highlight.

In 2020, three thousand charitable actions were counted and 72 million euros - that is to say 4% of the league's turnover - were donated to associations.

This did not prevent the president from drawing up a lucid report on the need to improve the approach to environmental issues, including the establishment of performance indicators to measure the impact of policies in this area.

At the level of the French Ligue 1, things are accelerating. For example, Olympique Lyonnais was the first French club to sign up for the Fair Play for Football label.

The objective of the maneuver is for several experts to conduct an audit of the club's environmental policy, targeting its strong and weak points.

We can also mention the will of As Saint Etienne, historical rival of the Lyon club, to institute CSR as a central policy of the club's development or the creation of numerous foundations among the leading figures of the French championship (Olympique de Marseille, Paris Saint Germain).

Other clubs, such as OGC Nice and Toulouse Football Club, have taken the gamble of supporting local associations.

Finally, we can note initiatives inherent to stadium management, such as the desire to achieve zero waste in stadiums in Amiens or the total energy renovation of the Meinau stadium by the Racing Club de Strasbourg.

However, in soccer, the grass is always greener elsewhere (especially if Jonathan Calderwood takes care of its maintenance).

In this respect, we can salute the approach of our neighbors from Liège who aim to make Standard de Liège the first eco-responsible club in Belgium by 2025.

In an interview granted to Ecofoot, Charles Caillot and Quentin Gilbert, respectively CSR & Marketing Project Officer and Strategy Officer, in charge of the club's CSR policy, targeted the dysfunctions of the past - mostly linked to spontaneous and unstructured actions - by clearly setting out the objectives to be followed in order to coordinate a global policy in this area.

As the 2018-2019 season began, the club began to reflect on this issue, commissioning an annual carbon audit and creating a satellite foundation with a board of directors.

The club's strategic choice was to opt for the "4Ps" system: People, Profit, Planet, Performance. This choice is supported by a quorum of supporters.

For a soccer club, however, as Mr. Caillot and Mr. Gilbert pointed out, it is impossible to meet the 17 objectives set by the United Nations in terms of sustainable development, so the Liège club decided to group as many of them as possible through major strategic axes.

- The creation of an eco-responsible stadium that adopts a social approach by setting up waste recycling actions and improving accessibility for people with reduced mobility and visual impairments.

- A goal of carbon neutrality, by reducing waste and opting for local and sustainable catering at the stadium or for the players.

- Increased visibility through marketing of environmental actions

- Weaving links with the local community and associations in the agglomeration through CSR actions to increase the club's visibility.

While these initiatives are good news for soccer in general, they should not obscure the fact that sport in general is lagging far behind in terms of CSR policy. Raphaël Ostré, Amplification Senior Manager & Sales at 17 Sport, said: "Sport is currently 5 to 10 years behind other sectors in terms of adopting a purposeful strategy".

However, as Antoine Miche, President of Football Ecology France, points out, the COVID pandemic has shifted the cards on the subject: "soccer must reinvent itself and CSR is the best engine for it".

A real prospect for the future when we know that soccer is said to be the third place of education after the family and the school.

To be continued.