More than 62,000 grassroots football games are canceled or postponed each year due to climate change, new research shows.
A survey by The Climate Coalition of 1,201 people involved in a soccer team found that, on average, every amateur club in the country experiences five cancellations or postponements each season due to extreme weather conditions.
Almost three-fifths (58%) of those involved in grassroots football, from players and coaches to volunteers and fans, say the impact on amateur football has worsened over the past five years.
It is estimated that 42% more games are canceled due to adverse weather conditions now than in 2016.
Of current players, 72% say they are reluctant to play football in extreme weather conditions, while 80% have already cut their playing time.
Other issues cited were the cancellation of training sessions (53%), the decrease in the number of spectators (51%) and the difficulty in finding match officials (51%).
The results of the survey made it possible to estimate that 62,524 games are affected each year.
It comes at the start of Great Big Green Week, which celebrates action on climate change.
Fiona Dear, of The Climate Coalition, said: “The extreme weather conditions linked to climate change are already having a disruptive impact on grassroots football, but we are also deeply concerned about future levels of participation.
“With the Met Office predicting that the UK could have between 70% and 100% more rain by 2080 – in less than 60 years – it is not uncontrollable that participation in grassroots football could all but disappear at this moment.”
Richard Lindsay of Birmingham County FA said: “There are great parallels between football and climate action.
“These are two topics that people in the UK are very passionate about, and both have the power to bring people together at a time when divisions in society have never been so visible.
“At Birmingham County FA, we are proud to have launched our Save Today, Play Tomorrow program to create and deliver low carbon football in the West Midlands.
“During Great Big Green Week, we’ll be focusing even more on this.
“If we want grassroots football to thrive long into the future, now is the time for people to come together and take action to preserve it. “
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