As early as 2009 – the year they won the Bundesliga – VfL were already leading the way in German professional football by creating their own CSR department, and the Green-and-Whites have continued to be pioneers in this area ever since.
SustainClub is the name of the first-ever recognised sustainability standard in professional football, providing a framework as well as guidance for clubs on how to systematically tackle the critical issues of sustainability. VfL are one of the first six professional clubs, along with Werder Bremen, Bayer 04 Leverkusen, VfB Stuttgart, FC St. Pauli and SC Paderborn 07, to have taken part in the sustainability certification process, and they came away with an impressive result. The Green-and-Whites were the only club to attain the Gold award level based on the comprehensive list of criteria drawn up by the Basel-based organisation sustainable///sports in conjunction with experts from German certification body DEKRA.
VfL trailblazers in the sector
Of the six sustainClub founding members, VfL Wolfsburg have played a particularly significant role in this second pilot phase, actively accompanying the development of the new label from the very beginning. Back in 2016, when the Wolves were the first and indeed only pilot partners, they already achieved sufficient points to obtain Gold status. “The fact that we’ve defended our trophy, so to speak, is something that we’re very proud of,” said VfL Managing Director Michael Meeske. “Sustainability is an issue that is not just important in terms of the image that we project. It is lived out in concrete terms on a daily basis by VfL Wolfsburg employees, and that is why we are fully behind this label and are committed to working to ensure that it is rolled out throughout the Bundesliga and adopted as a standard.”
180 evaluation criteria
The sustainability and CSR management system, that was developed based on dialogue with the clubs and then independently audited by DEKRA, is tailored to the world of professional sport. It is based on internationally recognised standards and covers some 180 evaluation criteria in the areas of the environment, finance and social factors, with the particular role played by sporting organisations, clubs and associations taken into account.
Having proved that their sustainability management is systematic, the pilot clubs who have achieved the required standard now have a pioneering role to play, and none more so than the Wolves once more. In order to establish sustainClub as a guidance framework, VfL Wolfsburg – in conjunction with the “Arbeitskreis Verantwortung” football club working group – will be implementing the label within the “Future of professional football” task force in Germany.