The Deutsche Fußball Liga (DFL) clubs have approved a resolution to change its club licensing requirements meaning that dialogue between fans and clubs is now a binding requirement to compete in the Bundesliga & 2. Bundesliga.
This change has come as a direct result of the discussions held in the Task Force between the DFL and supporters. SD Europe members and German national supporters organisation Unsere Kurve have said this is a ‘great success from a fan-political perspective’.
Put simply, in order to meet the criteria to be allowed to participate in the Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga, football clubs must have structured dialogue with their supporters. This structured dialogue will have to meet ‘mandatory basic requirements as well as quality requirements’ to ensure genuine and meaningful dialogue with supporters is fulfilled.
This demonstrates the importance of ensuring licensing requirements are actually implemented & monitored properly. This is not the first time structured dialogue has been included in the DFL’s club licensing. It was previously included, however the requirements were not specific enough to ensure that clubs followed through on it which led to discontent from fans. The DFL and supporters opened discussions to allow supporters to voice grievances over the need to tighten the specification of the club licensing which then led to the changes that have now been made.
Helen Breit, Chair of Unsere Kurve said “the new version of the club-fan dialog in the DFL's licensing regulations is a significant milestone for the recognition of fans' interests. This is because clubs in the first and second Bundesliga are now not only obliged to conduct structured dialog with their fans, but also now there is clear criteria that the clubs must meet. This is exactly what the fan-network "Zukunft Profifußball" recommended a year ago. Of course, it now depends on how these specifications are implemented locally. We will, of course, be closely monitoring this process.”
Whilst supporters in Germany desire for further criteria to be included in the DFL’s club licensing which they continue to work towards, this is a significant stride forward from German football that demonstrates what can be achieved through cooperation for other leagues across Europe to take note of.
At the European level, SD Europe has stipulated at the 2021 UEFA Convention that football needs to involve supporters in dialogue to ensure their voices are heard, represented and involved in decision making. UEFA has even said that it plans to involve supporter representation in its committees in the future.
The scenario from Germany shows that better decisions can be made when stakeholders are listened to and involved, ultimately building a stronger football. At both the domestic and international level, structured dialogue with supporters and other stakeholders will lead to stronger decision making for the benefit of the entire football ecosystem.
The DFL has also included sustainability requirements as a part of its club licensing, beginning in 2023/24. Read more on this here.