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Civil society organisations as agents for societal change: Football clubs' engagement with sustainability

Rodrigo Lozano and Maria Barreiro‐Gen

Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, 2023, vol. 30, issue 2, 820-828

Abstract: Progress towards more sustainable societies requires moving from reactive responses to immediate problems, towards a more proactive focus on avoiding possible future problems and preparing for potential events. This requires that sustainability is endorsed by a group or opinion leader to be adopted by society. Organisations have been instrumental in fostering sustainability and can be such opinion leaders. During the last 10 years, there has been an increasing interest in organisational sustainability; however, research on civil society organisations (CSOs) has been scarce. Sports organisations (such as football clubs) are a particular type of CSO, and have been adopting sustainability, albeit slowly. Twelve interviews with representatives of Swedish football clubs (from which nine were male clubs and three were female clubs) were conducted between August and November 2021. The data were analysed using Grounded Theory's constant comparative analysis method. The findings show that football clubs have been undertaking several sustainability efforts (e.g. stakeholder collaboration, energy, health, gender and transportation) and have been connecting the sustainability dimensions throughout such efforts. The findings provide insights into the stages of sustainability awareness in football clubs, starting from the social dimension, then the environmental, economic and time dimensions. An important finding from the interviews was the potential that football clubs have in engaging and influencing society through their fans. This research provides insights into the contributions of football clubs to sustainability. Football clubs, and other CSOs, have the potential to become societal change agents and make societies more sustainable through a shared identity.

Date: 2023
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Handle: RePEc:wly:corsem:v:30:y:2023:i:2:p:820-828