Following a number of major incidents in Dutch football, the Royal Dutch Football Association (KNVB) has launched a large-scale project, Voetball2020, with a range of national partners with the aim of formulating guidelines for making football a safer and more hospitable and accessible experience.
As part of the project, a best practice conference was held at the GelreDome in Arnhem on 10 May. The event was attended by around 230 people representing clubs, SLOs, the police, public prosecutors, local authorities and supporters.
The conference focused on the following areas:
– more hospitality;
– greater focus on safety (rather than security) on matchdays,
– control over local organisers by the local authority;
– focus on perpetrators rather than groups;
– engaging with supporters.
SD Europe was invited to address the conference on the subject of supporter liaison. SLO consultant Stuart Dykes gave a quick introduction to the role of the supporter liaison officer (SLO) before highlighting the progress made in Sweden since the introduction of the role in 2012, including a 20% reduction in spectator-related disorder as part of a nationwide dialogue approach in which SLOs have made a significant contribution.
While Dutch football has made great strides in terms of safety since the 1980s and 90s, this has been achieved at the expense of supporter freedoms. A blanket approach to security has seen all fans treated according to the actions of a very small minority of troublemakers. The consensus is that this must change, and that football must become a welcoming experience with the emphasis on “good hosting”. The only question is how. SLOs are one means of doing this, and the example of Sweden shows what can be achieved when all stakeholders show the courage to do things differently, even when things go wrong.
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 55 member associations. If you would like to learn more, visit the SLO section on the SD Europe website, browse the SD Europe SLO resources, follow the official SLO account on twitter or get directly in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org.