SLOs of clubs in the top three tiers of the German football pyramid gathered in Kaiserslautern for their annual assembly in early February. The meeting was jointly organised for the first time by the German Football Association (DFB) and the German Football League (DFL). Some 80 SLOs attended the two-day event.
The assembly was chaired by Benjamin Kandler, Deputy Head of Supporter Affairs at the DFL, and Bülent Aksen of the DFB Supporter Contact Point. It was opened by the host club chairman, Stefan Kuntz. The FC Kaiserslautern legend expressed his respect for the SLOs in attendance and emphasised the importance of their work. “Football can only exist the way it does because of the idealism you embody,” he said. Kuntz consults the Kaiserslautern SLOs on a regular basis to gain an insight into the mood within the fan base.
After the introductions the focus turned to four workshops with the following themes: “Standardisation of information”, “SLO working conditions”, “SLO 2020” and “Radicalisation of the fan base”. The workshop themes were selected and prepared by the Assembly Working Group, which is made up of four SLOs, Benjamin Kandler, Sabrina Lehmann and Eric Roda Gracia of the DFL, and Bülent Aksen of the DFB. Also in the working group were consultants from the University of Kassel, who played an important role throughout the assembly.
Evenly spread across the four workshops, the SLOs came up with clear recommendations for simplifying the exchange of information in the run-up to matches. They also set out specific minimum requirements for their working conditions. “Guaranteeing and improving these underlying conditions will be one of our main priorities over the next few weeks and months,” said Kandler, who was delighted with the inaugural joint assembly. “The concept worked very well,” he said. As a result, forthcoming events will again be attended by SLOs from the top three tiers rather than a two-one split. Commenting on behalf of the DFB, Aksen also drew a positive conclusion, saying: “The close collaboration between the governing bodies and the SLOs has been strengthened.”
A key reason for the success of the meeting was the excellent preparation. FSV Mainz SLO Ben Prasse spoke both for himself and for his colleagues in the Assembly Working Group when he said: “We’re very pleased with the meeting and hope to put together just asgood a programme for the next assembly“. After the successful event in Kaiserslautern, the bar has been set quite high.
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 project 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 54 member associations. If you would like to learn more, visit the SLO section on the SD Europe website, follow the official SLO account on twitter or get directly in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org.