The final meeting of SD Europe’s ‘Kick-Off!’ Erasmus+ project took place in Manchester on Friday, 23rd and Saturday, 24th June 2023 during Football Supporters Europe’s European Football Fans Congress, bringing the innovative 30-month project to a close.
The aim of Kick-Off! was to help National Supporters Organisations (NSOs) and National Associations (NAs) begin to build and maintain a long-term, positive, and more formal relationship with each other and develop shared visions. The project followed a methodology geared towards understanding, explaining, and then improving the existing relationships between them with the objective of founding formal and structured relationships and channels for dialogue.
Kick-Off! focused on Germany (Unsere Kurve and DFB), the Netherlands (Supporterscollectief Nederland and KNVB), Norway (Norsk Supporterallianse and NFF), and Spain (FASFE and RFEF). The project’s work also spread further than Europe, with the African supporters organisation Sandlanders taking part, working with several NAs across the continent.
The first day, June 23rd, saw the final partners meeting take place. The project’s report was presented for discussion and featured a concluding discussion on the effectiveness of the work, with the NSOs and NAs taking turns to present together on their progress and outcomes. The meeting was attended by all partners and several members of the project’s advisory board who have supported Kick-Off!’s work throughout.
The second day hosted an international multiplier sports event for the presentation of the European project results and action plan, which was attended by 39 representatives of supporters groups and football stakeholders. At this meeting, partner countries, including both the national supporter organisation and their national association in many instances, presented the outcomes of their project research and a summary of all outcomes in their country/region. Many of those in attendance who were not involved in the project expressed interest in embarking on their own journey to follow in the footsteps of the Kick-Off! Participants to improve the supporter-governing body relationship in their own countries.
Following the conclusion of the project, the majority of NSOs that took part in the project are on course to confirm a formal agreement with their counterpart NA, or in some cases a Letter of Intent to do so. These will be announced in due course by the NSOs and NAs.
Stuart Dykes, project Lead for SD Europe, said: “Kick-Off! leaves a legacy that supporters and NAs can work together towards formalising their relationships with mutual benefit. Over the last two years or so, through the project’s unique methodology, the partners have been able to identify where difficulties between them lay and identify a route around them to work towards setting foundations for lasting cooperation.
“The project finishes not long after the European supporters movement formalised its relationship with UEFA through an MoU signed with FSE, and this, combined with the project’s outcomes, has the potential to catalyse even more structured cooperation between the game’s governing bodies and supporters across Europe.”
SD Europe would like to thank all who participated in the project contributing to its fruitful outcomes.