Sustainability in the Bundesliga: Schalke 04 wants to go ahead with a new initiative


The topic of sustainability has long since arrived in the Bundesliga. FC Schalke 04 is looking for its own way on this topic and is bundling the knowledge of various participants in its new “Zukunftsschmiede 04”.

On the FC training ground Sustainability should become a bigger topic at Schalke 04

The new wells are already planned. Soon the office of FC Schalke 04, the football teams and the spectators will be supplied with water from the club premises. This is one of several sustainable and ecological measures that the Ruhr area club has planned for the future in its “Sustainability strategy for a climate-neutral Schalke”. Compulsory,” Schalke's CEO Bernd Schröder told DW when the strategy was presented.

For this purpose, those responsible at Schalke have started their own initiative, which is primarily anchored regionally and is intended to pool knowledge on the subject of sustainability. “Zukunftsschmiede 04” is a network of currently eleven parties involved. Medium-sized and DAX companies are involved, as well as the RAG Foundation, digital experts and municipal companies from the region, who with their know-how and their ideas should benefit from each other and make the club more sustainable. 

It should always be about the topic of sustainability and the various questions associated with it:  Can the spectators' arrival and departure routes be designed as efficiently and climate-neutrally as possible on match days? Whether and how charging stations for e-bikes can be installed? Where should the new photovoltaic system be built on the club premises? How can the amount of waste on match days be reduced? 

Sustainability and environmental strategy

Sustainability and environmental protection are social issues that have long since reached the Bundesliga. In mid-2022, the DFL – the association of 36 licensed teams from the 1st and 2nd leagues – committed itself to this. to gradually include a sustainability guideline into the licensing regulations, which ecological, economic and social aspects should take into account. From the 2023/24 season, clubs that do not comply with the sustainability concept should no longer be able to receive a game permit.

A 300 square meter photovoltaic system was installed when the Schalke Arena opened in 2001

For example, proof of a sustainability strategy and an environmental strategy will be mandatory for clubs in the future. In the past few days, all clubs had to submit information about their current status in terms of measuring water consumption, waste water production and energy consumption, as well as a mobility and traffic analysis. The catalog drawn up by the DFL for this purpose includes around 300 different aspects ;

New chance for the clubs

“The clubs have been interested in the topic of sustainability for a long time. Sometimes regulatory pressure is required to implement something,” said Stefan Ludwig, head of the “Sports Business Group” at the auditing and consulting firm Deloitte of DW. The requirements of the league offer the clubs new opportunities for further positive changes.

“Many clubs are aware that it is not only an obligation, but also an opportunity to save costs. Or to make themselves attractive to sponsors who have previously stayed away from professional sport.” This is also an advantage with regard to existing partnerships, for example with listed companies, which have been obliged for some time to meet sustainability criteria and also pass these on to their partners and service providers, so the business expert.  

A better place for the successors

At Schalke 04 they want to go beyond the measures that have been decided on with their own initiative. According to the club, the main aspects are “the ecological transformation and the corporate responsibility of the club.” In addition to its own efforts, Schalke also wants to act as a “platform for networks and companies” in the future. 

S04 board member Bernd Schröder during the presentation of the “Sustainability strategy for a climate-neutral Schalke”

“We don't promise the moon, but want to do sustainability work that is understandable and understandable for all members and fans  Sebastian Buntkirchen, director for fan affairs and sustainability at the Bundesliga club,  told DW. Schalke has had its own six-person sustainability department for over a year. “I once learned that you can put a place in better condition should leave when you found him. That's our goal,” says Schalke boss Bernd Schröder.