At the end of May, representatives of football clubs from three European countries took part in the fifth of 12 exchange visits under SD Europe’s supporter liaison and engagement project LIAISE, funded by the European Union’s Erasmus+ programme and UEFA.
The visit was hosted by the Ligová Fotbalová Asociace (Czech Football League) and saw representatives of the Bulgarian Football Union (BFU) and the European Think Tank of Football Safety and Security Experts plus the SLO of Polish Ekstraklasa outfit Jagiellonia Białystok travel to the city of Olomouc, accompanied by SD Europe as the project organisers.
The two-day exchange visit had two main focuses:
The first focus was to showcase the work of Czech supporter liaison officers, starting on the first day with the experiences of Martin Kurka, SLO at Bohemians Praha 1905, and Martin Benda, SLO at SK Slavia Praha. They gave the visiting delegation an insight into the matchday operations of a Czech SLO.
The visits were hosted in Prague at the Bohemians’ Dolicek Stadium, and Slavia Prague’s Sinobo Stadium. Representatives of the Czech police also gave a presentation on the current situation in Czechia and their desire to adopt a more dialogue-based approach to the policing of matches.
The second focus of the exchange was reserved for a in-depth look at the work surrounding the Czech Cup final between Banik Ostrava and SK Slavia Praha. Prior to the match, the SLOs were invited by the match delegate to attend the pre-match organisation meeting. All the parties involved in the organisation of the event and security matters were given their final instructions. The delegation then had the opportunity to observe the arrival and admission of the away fans and the work of stewards, police, SLOs of both clubs, and the home safety officer.
Commenting on the exchange, Stuart Dykes, SD Europe’s SLO consultant commented:
“The visit was really well organised by the LFA and the various discussions and observations gave us a great opportunity to learn more about the work of Czech SLOs and the context in which they operate. Many of the findings will flow into a national action plan of recommendations for Czechia and also inform future policy on police liaison with supporters at European level.”
👥The second day of the #LIAISE exchange visit to Czechia takes us to the home of Sigma Olomouc for the Czech Cup final⚽️⚽️ #PassionHasPower #SLO #fanliaison @SuppLiaison @Slavia_SLO @bohemians1905 @CzechSLOs More about LIAISE: https://t.co/XQvpeENCJv pic.twitter.com/CraVUdLO2A — SD Europe (@SDEurope07) 22 maggio 2019
The intensity of the discussions and the opportunity for various partners to exchange information and experiences, ensured this was a very productive visit.
LIAISE is a unique two-year collaborative partnership that brings together supporters (SD Europe, FSE, ANS, SFSU), football associations (Bulgaria, France, Ireland, Poland, Portugal), football leagues (Czech Republic, France, Sweden) and stakeholders including UEFA and the European Think Tank of Football Safety and Security Experts for the first time. LIAISE kicked off in January 2018 and will run for two years until December 2019.