In early October the Bulgarian Football Union (BFU) organised a round table on the matchday activities of the supporter liaison officer (SLO). The event was attended by a representative of the BFU Executive Committee, the BFU Deputy Executive Director, various BFU officials and representatives of the police as well as club SLOs, various supporters club representatives and the chairman of the Bulgarian Supporters Association.
The SLO coordinator of the BFU, Dimitar Christov, kicked off the discussion with a presentation on the UEFA and BFU requirements for SLOs and the guidelines for the appointment of SLOs by clubs. All first division clubs were encouraged to ask the BFU for official accreditation for their SLOs to allow them to participate at pre-match organisational meetings as part of their duties. Mr Christov also stressed the importance of separating the roles of SLOs and security officers, as “they have different and in this case controversial tasks”. A Ministry of the Interior representative then explained the legislation regarding football violence, gave examples of misunderstandings between fans and the police that have led to security problems and explained how the proper implementation of the SLO project could prevent similar cases in the future.
For their part, supporter representatives talked about the impact ‘behind closed doors’ sanctions has had on visiting supporters, who are also punished by stadium closures even though they have done nothing wrong. The suggestion by the deputy executive director of the BFU, Mr Anton Popov, that next season clubs could be required to play at a different stadium rather than behind closed doors, provided the owners of the relevant stadiums did not charge unreasonably high rents, was “highly appreciated”. The supporter reps also expressed their concerns about the condition of many football stadiums and sports facilities, especially for visiting supporters, and stressed that improvements here could avoid many conflict situations.
The participants also discussed the recruitment of stewards and the use of pyrotechnics and firecrackers, and all committed to support the Bulgarian national team during the qualifying matches for EURO 2016.