The fourth ever Fútbol Popular event took place in Getafe, just outside Madrid from July 21 – 23 recently. SD Europe was in attendance along with Erasmus+ project partners Supporters in Campo and SFSU.
The Fútbol Popular movement in Spain continues to grow. Now into double figures, it’s a collective of fan-owned, community-orientated football clubs that believe there is a different way to organise and run clubs in football today.
SD Europe‘s Niamh O’Mahony addressed the opening session, speaking about the organisation’s Erasmus+ project (entitled ‘Clubs and Supporters for Better Governance in Football’), and reiterating that supporters have all the capabilities needed to run a sustainable football club with a meaningful place in its community.
“When SD Europe is asked about Spanish football in our day-to-day work, we think of the work of the Fútbol Popular clubs and FASFE, both of whom know there is a better, more transparency way to govern and develop the game,” she said. “We were delighted to hear of the progress being made, and that our project partners – Supporters in Campo and SFSU – had the opportunity to learn new ideas and share their own best practice.”
A discussion about “The Football We Want” followed, with contributions from Argentine manager and former player Ángel Cappa, journalists María Cappa and Víctor Cervantes, and Uli Illán from CAP Ciudad de Murcia.
The second day of sessions kicked off with a presentation from Fiare Banca Etica, which is a co-operative bank in Spain that puts ethical and social values to the fore in their business. They support a range of different social projects and spoke about the possibilities for support for those involved within Fútbol Popular.
Next, the meeting discussed plans for a new Sports Law in Spain and how FASFE members will contribute via a new working group being set up by the national supporters organisation. Like many supporters across Europe, FASFE wants to see a better governed game alongside changes that will allow Fútbol Popular clubs proper and, in time, compete at every level of the game.
Representatives from Unión Club Ceares and CAP Ciudad de Murcia then outlined the various and strict financial and employment obligations that all clubs need to abide by in terms of Spanish law.
After lunch, Supporters in Campo, represented by Pippo Russo and Stefano Pagnozzi, outlined how fan ownership and the SinC organisation has developed in Italy in recent times. There are now 22 different organisations involved with SinC, and more are being founded all the time.
SFSU chair Sofia Bohlin then explained how Sweden’s 50+1 regulation came about initially and how her organisation had to organise a campaign to protect it in 2012. As a result of improved atmospheres within grounds, “more and more people are going to football in Sweden than ever before,” according to Sofia. When asked what motivated SFSU to protect 50+1 in Sweden, Sofia said: “We see the difficulties clubs in other countries have without out.”
Lena Gustafson Wiberg, a member of the SD Europe team and the SLO at Djurgårdens IF, then outlined what the Supporter Liaison Officer role is intended to be. SLOs, whether paid or voluntary, should be recruited “from the stands”. The SLO’s role is to create dialogue between all stakeholders in football. They focus on safety but are not part of clubs’ match night security team. A ‘service’ element is key for SLOs – they want to encourage all supporters to come back and support the club on a regular basis.
The second day ended with a discussion about the importance of strong governance in the game, and what can be done when measures don’t go far enough. In summary, it’s quite often left to supporters to push for better regulation and governance in football today.