News and Notes

Top Spanish Soccer Club Launches Forever Green, Healthy Air Quality Helps Performance at Polish Half-Marathon


Real Betis, the Seville-based soccer club in Spain’s top league, became the world’s first pro sports team to sign onto to the Amazon-led Climate Pledge. Signatories commit to reach the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement by 2040, ten years ahead of the pact’s deadline.

Data collected by World Athletics, the international governing body for track and field, at October’s World Half Marathon in Gdynia, Poland suggest the events good air quality was a factor in the high number of personal best times.

Two upbeat stories to end an up and down and…up (?) week in a TGIF GSB News & Notes column.




Real Betis currently sits in seventh place in La Liga, Spain’s top football/soccer league. But the Seville-based club is a global leader among sports teams in the climate change fight. Last year, Real Betis became the first football club to join the United Nations initiative ‘Climate Neutral Now’, committing to measure and reduce its carbon footprint.

The organization followed that up in September when it became the first sports team to sign on to The Climate Pledge. The Amazon-led effort commits signatories to reach the goals set out by the Paris Climate Agreement by 2040, ten years before the deadline.

“At Real Betis, we are committed to tackling climate change,” said Ramón Alarcón, Real Betis general business director, in a statement. “We are also helping to raise awareness to address the climate crisis, by engaging with our players and fans. We understand that climate change is a threat to the livelihoods and the wellbeing of everyone on the planet, and we are committed to doing our part. We are very excited to be the first football club in the world to join this program, and can’t wait to work with Climate Pledge companies to ramp up our efforts.”


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Ramon Alarcon (Photo credit: Real Betis)


The club took started up that on-ramp last week when it launched Forever Green, a sustainability program created in partnership with Amazon, La Liga, the UN, and the Spanish government. Per the website, the program’s goal is to “take advantage of the power of the most popular sport on the planet to help saving it [by inviting] [partners and] millions of fans [to become] our allies to fight against climate change.”

Real Betis management built Forever Green to be an open-source platform where its partner companies can showcase their climate change-fighting products, services and actions.

Forever Green has five key pillars:

  1. Climate Change 
    • Real Betis measures its carbon footprint with the help of First Climate, a German climate protection solutions provider.
    • It is beginning to reduce its emissions by helping to fund the Orosi Wind Farm in Costa Rica.
  2. Recycling
    • Thanks to innovative local recycling partners Ecoembes and Ecovidrio, Real Betis wants to “undertake different waste separation and collection actions to create a recycling culture among its fans.”
  3. Mobility
    • In a post-COVID world, once fans are able to return to stadiums and arenas in great numbers, Real Betis said it will be ready. It said in a statement that it will promote, “different campaigns to motivate sustainable transport with electric vehicles, bicycles or public transport.”
  4. Nature
    • The club is pursuing the creation of urban farms, reforestation projects, the clean up of the nearby Guadalquivir River.
  5. Sustainability
    • The team is installing a “smart illumination system” in Estadio Benito Villamarín, its 60,000-capacity home and is attempting to reduce its reliance on single-use plastic.
    • Solar panels will be installed on-site in the coming years


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Estadio Benito Villamarín, home of Real Betis (Photo credit: Real Betis)


GSB’s Take: We have, since 2014, called fourth-tier (aka minor league) English soccer/football club Forest Green Rovers, the “Greenest Team In Sports”. With on-site solar, electric vehicles for players, a solar powered “Mo-Bot” to manicure the pitch, and vegan-only concession stands, FGR has earned that distinction.

We also have asked, “When will a major league team, with its massive megaphone, mirror Forest Green Rovers?”

Real Betis, through its Climate Neutral Now and The Climate Pledge commitments, and now with its Forever Green platform, has begun to take up the challenge.

We say ¡Fantastico!

Who will be next?



According to World Athletics, the governing body of track and field, a preliminary analysis of data collected at October’s Half Marathon Championships in Gdynia, Poland indicates that the city had the best air quality of any major track event or road race measured since the launch of its Air Quality Project in 2018.


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The lead pack in the men's race at October's World Athletics Half Marathon Championships in Gdynia, Poland (Photo credit: Getty Images)


“The data suggests that the clean air in the Polish city, combined with the optimal temperature and humidity, was among the factors that contributed to the high number of personal best performances in Gdynia,” World Athletics said in a statement. “This included the world record set by the women’s winner Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya.”

Two air quality monitors were used in Gdynia — one at a fixed position near the starting line, and one mobile device attached to a bicycle which followed the athletes around all four laps of both races. More than 70,000 data points were collected for various pollutant gases concentrations, particle concentrations and meteorological parameters across an 18-hour period in Gdynia.

Pending validation, the data showed very low concentrations of polluting gases and particulate matter. Gdynia’s coastal location, the weather and low levels of human-caused emissions detected (thanks in part to limits on vehicular traffic) have resulted in the lowest level of pollutants that the Air Quality Project has monitored to date in any urban race.


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Peres Jepchirchir wins the World Athletics Half Marathon Championships in Gdynia, Poland (Photo credit: Getty Images)


“The data we collected suggest that conditions in Gdynia were optimal for runners and spectators,” said World Athletics Health & Science Department Manager Paolo Adami. “The strong winds and rain of the first day cleared the air and the levels of particulate matter (PM) that we recorded were the lowest we have so far measured in road races. Levels of gasses, ozone (O3) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) were consistent with the environmental conditions and the location of the city. From a personal standpoint, it was fantastic to cycle next to the athletes in both the men’s and women’s races.”

By publishing air quality statistics from road races and stadiums, World Athletics hopes to encourage athletes, recreational runners, cities, local and national governments and member federations to become more conscious of air quality and the impact that it has on health and performance.


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Paolo Adami of World Athletics (Photo credit: AP)


GSB’s Take: Kudos to World Athletics for measuring and sharing air quality data at road races and stadium track meets. This is a great template for Major League Baseball, the NFL, the English Premier League and more to follow.



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