Fabio Capello’s squad and more than half of the teams qualifying for next year’s event plan offset the carbon emission arising from their travel to South Africa.

Friends of the Earth called it an "own goal" and a "total con".

The group urged rich countries to set an example and lead by cutting their emissions by 40% by 2020 without carbon offsetting.

Asad Rehman, Friends of the Earth’s senior international climate campaigner, said: "We all love the beautiful game - but carbon offsetting is an own goal. It's a total con which will do nothing to reduce the impact of the emissions of all these teams flying to the tournament.

"It's Africa which is already feeling the impacts of climate change - drought, flooding and unreliable rains are devastating lives across the continent.

"These proposals should be left sitting firmly on the bench."