“Toulon Europe Supporters” took place on September 23rd in Toulon, France
Among the participants were members of Mouvement Azur et Or, organised and individual supporters of SC Toulon, representatives of the city, representatives of the French national supporters’ organisation “Association Nationale des Supporters (ANS)”, sociologist Nicolas Hourcade, CAFE partners Handifan Club and SD Europe.
The meeting was initially planned as a conference, but quickly turned into a round table discussion after the presentation of SD Europe on its European network of national and local supporters’ groups that want to be involved in the decision-making process of football and member-run clubs. Comparisons with the role of Mouvement Azur et Or, the structure of SC Toulon and the connection of both with the wider community were inevitable as participants engaged in a constructive discussion that allowed them to better position in their minds the role they can play in the development of the club and brainstorm about potential joint next steps.
“For us this meeting will be a milestone and mark the beginning of a new cycle. We now need to make the right decisions and we look forward to receiving support from the SD Europe and ANS on areas we lack experience and expertise”, Anton of Mouvement Azur et Or said.
On their part, the ANS informed participants about their activities to bond with and service their members at grassroots level as well as represent them at top level. ANS members benefit from the collective expertise as they support each other with legal, strategic and liaison advice (at club and police level) under the coordination of the ANS board. At the same time, the board, following consultation with the members, represents them in the discussions with the French FA (FFF), the French League (LFP), the French Ministry of Sport as well as SD Europe.
James of the ANS said “For a long time the view of French supporters was not taken into consideration. Association Nationale de Supporters has shown that supporters can be an equal stakeholder and can bring solutions on the table. Our members work together to address the issues we and the majority of fans have dealt with in the past, face today and might encounter in the future. We are part of the SD Europe family and will be very happy to work with more like-minded organisations”.
The ANS, together with the FFF, are also partners in SD Europe’s Liaison-based Integrated Approach to Improving Supporter Engagement (LIAISE) Erasmus+ project. LIAISE will run from January 2018 until December 2019, with support and funding from UEFA with its primary objective being to encourage the football authorities and partner agencies to recognise the value of enhanced dialogue and communication between club supporter liaison officers (SLOs) and the football and public authorities through better understanding, awareness and implementation of established SLO good practices.
Mouvement Azur et Or and the ANS have successfully cooperated in the past and, supporting the work of both, SD Europe hope to see the relationship becoming closer and more structured. MAO have plenty to bring on the table and at the same time a lot to gain from the reliability and determination of the ANS.