A representative of SD Europe recently took part in the annual Pan-European Football Policing Training Project (PE-FPTP) event, delivered under the auspices of the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Training (CEPOL) in cooperation with the Bulgarian CEPOL National Unit, the EU Thank Tank on Football Security and Liverpool University. The event was held in mid-September in Sofia, Bulgaria, and was attended by police representatives with responsibility for football policing from a host of European countries.
SD Europe were invited to take part in a panel discussion on the subject of Supporter Communication Strategies Policing & Supporter Perspectives, along with a representative of Football Supporters Europe (FSE) and senior police officers from Belgium, Bulgaria, Portugal and Romania.
The focus for SD Europe here was the now prevailing view among leading experts in the field of safety and security at football matches that club supporter liaison officers (SLOs) can play a valuable role in:
- encouraging dialogue and communication between fans and the police and other stakeholders;
- managing and de-escalating conflict;
- encouraging self-regulation among supporters, thus reducing the need for an intervention by police and
- promoting mutual understanding of each other’s role (reducing enemy stereotypes).
This can only serve to improve the match-day experience for supporters and everyone involved in the organisation and staging of football matches. It also offers a number of benefits for wider society, such as a reduction in spectator-related disorder and lower policing and social costs.
SD Europe’s activities in the area of police training will continue in October when we will take part in a customised national police training event in Bulgaria organised as part of the joint Council of Europe/European Union ProS4+ project. This event, which will be based on the Pan-European Football Policing Training Programme and will also take place in Sofia, offers SD Europe the opportunity to address Bulgarian football policing practitioners, police trainers and policymakers and promote the positive role in the implementation of the SLO role at club level being played by the Bulgarian Football Union (BFU) in close consultation with SD Europe and UEFA.
Under Article 35 of the UEFA Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play Regulations, clubs across Europe are required to appoint a Supporter Liaison Officer (SLO) to ensure proper and constructive discourse between them and their fans. The SLO requirement originated in 2009 as a result of detailed talks between UEFA and SD Europe. It was approved by the UEFA Executive Committee in 2010, with SD Europe appointed to manage its implementation across UEFA’s 55 member associations. If you would like to learn more, visit the SLO section on the SD Europe website or get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org.