The worsening climate is among the major defining issues for the future of football. While authorities have begun to address the problem, they’re still lacking in urgency and resolve. From the water-intensive exercise of maintaining the pitch to international travel on the luxurious jet, football’s contribution to carbon emission can’t be understated. The global football industry emits over 30 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. A report estimates that one-fourth of the English ground will become flood-prone in the next three decades due to continual warming.
In light of such gloomy forecasts, football clubs have teamed up with multiple brands and grassroots organisations to inculcate sustainable practices in their day-to-day workings. As the new season of European football looms larger, we see elite clubs becoming more conscious about the environmental impact of clothing, and coming up with alternative materials like recycled polyester, organic cotton, and bamboo fibre. Clubs are embracings the concept of the circular economy. New jerseys are being produced from recycled materials, with some clubs even asking fans to return their old jerseys for recycling purposes.
To combat plastic waste, Manchester United released an eco-friendly home kit for the upcoming season, made entirely from upcycled materials. Adidas, their kit sponsor, has incorporated HEAT RDY technology that enables the wearer to remain cool in warm temperatures.
For Liverpool’s third kit that was leaked a while ago, their kit manufacturer has come up with Nike Grind material for both the club’s and the brand’s logo on the jersey. Nike Grind repurposes scrap, unused material, and end-of-life shoes headed for landfills into recycled products.
In March this year, Adidas extended its partnership with Parley, the global environmental organization working on ocean conservation. In 2015, Adidas, in association with Parley, produced a running shoe from recycled ocean waste for the first time, and since then, they have expanded their product line to trainers, jerseys and other products.
Puma has also been at the forefront of creating sustainable products, with close to 100% of their cotton, polyester, and leather coming from sustainable sources since 2021. By 2025, they aim to scale up the usage of recycled polyester by 75%. They used the non-animal leather for the KING collection, an iconic boot previously worn by the likes of Johan Cruyff, Diego Maradona, Eusébio, Lothar Matthaeus and Pelé. Puma and Nike have already stopped production of football boots made from Kangaroo leather. Nike has also renewed their classic Tiempo lineup, made from synthetic leather.
As the leading clubs and brands continue to embrace sustainability, the future of football fashion looks intriguing.