Udinese Calcio:

sustainability is a team sport

An interview with Franco Collavino

Udinese is perceived as the most sustainable team of all football clubs in Italy, and the fourth in Europe.

An initial statement from the report Brand Finance Football Sustainability Perceptions Index 2023, which considers the 3 main universally recognised sustainability metrics: environmental, social and governance.

At the top of this special ranking is the Reds - Liverpool F.C. - followed by Spanish Betis Seville and Real Madrid. Then comes Udinese, the first Italian team to appear on the list, which - like other clubs - has joined the United Nations programme "Sports for Climate Action", showing that they have achieved significant results in terms of sustainability.

We met with Franco Collavino, General Manager of Udinese Calcio.

How did such a strong push for sustainability come about?

"For us, sustainability has always been an all-encompassing value. It is a vision we have applied to our business model, at the request of our owner, using a managerial approach applied to football. This has led us to becoming a virtuous model at an international level, allowing us to establish ourselves at high levels. From this general care taken over sustainability, the challenge of environmental sustainability then came about. We have always believed that football should be a privileged vehicle for positive social messages, and regarding the environment this is highly urgent. As a club, 4 years ago we understood the importance of this and launched a green policy, starting from the awareness of how central this value is for Udinese."

What concrete actions have been implemented in this regard?

"First of all, we wanted this green policy to involve sharing values with our partners, stimulating them to put into practice concrete actions to protect the environment and get involved in common projects related to the issue.

In parallel, at the marketing and commercial level, we have launched a selection of new partnerships, specifically concentrating on sharing this vision of environmental sustainability.
Everyone has responded with great enthusiasm, and this has allowed us to launch a concrete campaign.
We put the Dacia Arena at the centre of this, and for over 3 years, thanks to our partner Bluenergy, it has been using only energy from renewable sources with zero emissions: this was the first step towards the realistic goal of a green Dacia Arena that has already saved over 2,500 tonnes of CO2 emissions. At the same time, thanks to our technical sponsor, Macron, in 2020 we became the first club in the world with Macron branding to use shirts made from eco-friendly material created with recycled PET plastic bottles, with 13 bottles needed to make one shirt.

With the San Daniele Prosciutto Consortium, we have also recently brought to life a big event at the Dacia Arena with the theme of environmental sustainability, an issue that the Consortium is also highly committed to. Our green policy isn't limited to the stadium - it also involves the whole life of the Club. We openly encourage more environmental responsibility from our fans and many others, along with sustainable consumption; at the same time, we work to reduce the climate impact of sports events and support climate action through our communication.

These goals and strategies are also part of the UEFA 2030 Goals, which are based on 4 foundational principles: circular economy, climate & advocacy, event sustainability, infrastructure sustainability."

Other than environmental sustainability, what is the role of the Dacia Arena, the team's home, when it comes to social sustainability?

"Here too, its role is central. I am particularly happy to focus on this aspect of sustainability: we have spoken about the governance and environmental aspects, but we are equally committed to social initiatives.
Indeed, it is no coincidence that the ESG ranking in the Brand Finance Football Sustainability Perceptions Index report has listed us as the most sustainable club in Italy, and fourth in the world after Liverpool, Real Madrid and Betis Seville. The ESG parameters take into consideration environmental, social and governance sustainability. This shows, as I said, that sustainability is one of our foundational values in all its forms.
With this in mind, the Dacia Arena was designed as a point of reference for the whole community right from its conception, and is active 365 days a year with many events other than football. Consider, for example, that it was the first stadium in Italy to become a Covid vaccine hub, as well as being a collection centre for humanitarian aid to send to Ukraine; and, in parallel, it has hosted very significant events for our region, such as the Graduation Day for the University of Udine, with over 5,000 guests welcomed to watch the proclamation of graduates. As you can see, our stadium is a point of reference for the territory, and we hope that it will become even more so with the completion of the "Stadium 2.0" project, which has been stuck behind bureaucratic red tape for years. This project envisages the use of over 20,000 square metres to be designated for community services such as a nursery, swimming pools and a medical centre. This is all already planned, without the use of public money.
Furthermore, with our non-profit Udinese per la Vita, we support the needs of businesses in the area that work to protect vulnerable groups or assist disabled children and adults, without forgetting our commitment to equality, which is demonstrated by the use of a special rainbow shirt for the Udinese-Lazio match on 21st May, to celebrate the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia on 17th May."

A team is not only a team, but also a community - made up of fans and many other people. So how do these sustainable choices affect the whole community?

"We mustn't neglect the role we play when it comes to our fans, and, above all, the youngest ones. Paying concrete attention to the environment and the needs of society is without a doubt amplified by football, considering its level of popularity. We want our fans, and also the region, for which we feel we are privileged ambassadors, to perceive these values and identify with them.
Our work has certainly led to benefits for the community, as shown by our ESG ranking, but also by the attention that Udine and Friuli-Venezia Giulia have received, thanks to Udinese's model which has established itself globally, and the Dacia Arena, which attracts a great many visitors and tourists who can discover our region and the values of our community.

This is also how we can understand the importance of these messages: a sustainable club is a modern, innovative club that stays at a high level, generating a virtuous circle that brings value and prestige to the entire community."


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