Infantino hobnobs on climate change at Cop28 before clocking up 31,404km on his private jet

December 5 – On the sidelines of Cop28, FIFA president Gianni Infantino has said that the global governing body cares about climate change, though he has come under increasing criticism for his own carbon footprint. 

Last week, the football supremo flew on a private jet to the UN climate change conference, COP28, in the United Arab Emirates where he shared moments with, among others, King Charles, French president Emmanuel Macron, Brazilian Head of State Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, British PM Rishi Sunak and Rwandan president Paul Kagame.

On Instagram, Infantino said: “FIFA is present because we care about the climate. Climate change is very high on our agenda as well. Football can contribute to raise awareness of the topic and contribute as well to help in whichever way we can to protect the world, to protect the climate, and to make sure our children have a planet on which they can still live.”

He promptly jetted off to the U-17 World Cup final in Indonesia before whirlwind visits to Guam and Hawaii and an onward flight to Miami. His visits to IFAB in London and the European Broadcasting Union in Geneva included, flight details show that Infantino flew 31,404 kilometres between November 30 and December 4. In the week that he attended Cop28, Infantino demonstrated that he belongs to the ‘polluter elite’.

It’s not the first time that the FIFA boss’s private jet usage has drawn comment.

During the recent Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, he clocked up more than 40,000 kilometres to attend matches and visit member associations in Oceania. His travels, again with a Qatar Executive Jet, drew widespread condemnation and appeared to contradict FIFA’s ‘obligations’.

FIFA’s secretary general Fatma Samoura also had a private jet at her disposal during the tournament.

The world federation is a signatory to the UN Sport for Climate Action Framework, which compels the governing body to create sustainable events as well as advocate for climate action in the Paris Agreement. Ahead of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, FIFA and Infantino rolled out the ‘green card’ to draw attention to the protection of the environment.

A month ago, FIFA and Infantino announced that the World Cup in 2030 will be played in six countries across three continents, including just three games in South America, taking the notion of mega sporting events to a new extreme.

Subject to confirmation by the Congress next year, the 2034 global finals will be staged in Saudi Arabia, fossil fuel heartland. State-owned oil giant Aramco will reportedly become one of FIFA’s top sponsors in a deal worth up to $100 million a year. Infantino’s greenwashing is ringing very hollow.

FIFA’s media office did not respond to questions.

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