Football bodies, clubs and national supporters organisations from six European countries met in Prague last week for the launch meeting of SD Europe’s latest Erasmus+ project, LIAISE.
Focusing on the development of the supporter liaison officer (SLO) role, the project brings together football authorities and supporters in a unique collaborative partnership that will work together until December 31st, 2019. LIAISE is funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union and is co-financed by Uefa.
Seven football associations and leagues, two national supporters organisations and Football Supporters Europe (FSE) are involved as partners and contributing organisations.
National football bodies
Български Футболен Съюз (BFU)/Bulgarian Football Union (Bulgaria)
Ligová fotbalová asociace (LFA)/Czech Football League (Czech Republic)
Fédération Française de Football (FFF)/French Football Federation (France)
Polski Związek Piłki Nożnej (PZPN)/Polish Football Association (Poland)
Svensk Elitfotboll (SEF)/Swedish Football League (Sweden)
Federação Portuguesa de Futebol (FPF) / Portuguese Football Federation (Portugal)
Football Association of Ireland (FAI) / (Ireland)
National supporter organisations
Pan-European supporter organisations
Football Supporters Europe e.V. (FSE) (Germany)
* * *
Gathering together for the first time at the offices of the Football Association of the Czech Republic (FAČR) from March 15th to 16th, partners initially heard from SD Europe CEO Antonia Hagemann.
Antonia explained how the organisation’s track record of securing project funding from the European Union was a testament to the work being done by its members and wider network of organisations across Europe over the past 11 years.
The supporter liaison officer role, she said, has significant potential to act as a conduit or bridge between clubs, public authorities such as police, and supporters not only around match day but also for day-to-day club activities.
SD Europe CEO Antonia Hagemann
Next, Head of SLO Implementation and project manager Stuart Dykes placed LIAISE into context within current regulatory frameworks at European level.
He explained that the Council of Europe Convention on an Integrated Safety, Security and Service Approach at Football Matches and Other Sports Events specifically recognises the importance of effective dialogue with supporters as a key component of an “integrated approach”.
He outlined LIAISE’s five primary goals as follows:
Professionalisation of the SLO work
Greater awareness of the SLO role amongst all stakeholders
Improvement of cooperation between clubs, supporters and the football and public authorities
Development of relationships between partners and contributing organisations
Reduction of spectator-related disorder (medium term)
This will be achieved through the outcomes and outputs from three training events and 12 exchange visits between partners (more information on the project’s activities) over a 16-month period.
Daniel Hajný, communication director of LFA
Each of the six countries involved (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, France, Poland, Portugal and Sweden), will have a national action plan developed on their behalf, while an SLO-specific annex to the EU Handbook on Police Liaison with Supporters will also be prepared by the partnership.
To conclude the first day of the meeting, research partner Substance outlined the key findings of a needs analysis exercise conducted with partners in February. The work identified some initial key challenges and priorities for partners; it will also be used to inform the content of the training events and, later in the project, the national action plans.
Day two of the meeting brought a focus on the recording and reporting requirements of the project, with the SD Europe team setting out best practice to ensure all activities are completed with a timely, quality-focused approach. A range of communication tools, ideas and key messages for the project were also discussed.
Before bringing the meeting to a formal close, participants were updated on the initial plans for the first training event in Stockholm (April 15th to 17th) where partners will be joined by a number of additional football bodies, supporters organisations and other interested stakeholders.
“After spending such a long time planning LIAISE, it was a fantastic feeling to be able to get the project under way,” Stuart said. “It was very encouraging to see the partners engaging in all the discussions, and I am sure the project will play a useful role in bringing the various football stakeholders closer together in a constructive dialogue over the next 21 months.
“The aim is for LIAISE to make its presence felt not only in the partner countries but also further afield by inviting other interested parties to attend the project events, kicking off with the opening workshop in Stockholm.”
For more information about LIAISE, visit: sdeurope.eu/liaise. The SLO role is a Uefa Licensing requirement (Article 35) and its implementation has been supported on behalf of Uefa by SD Europe since 2010. For more information, visit our SLO section or email firstname.lastname@example.org.