At the beginning of 2015 season the Norwegian Football Federation (NFF) and representatives of clubs, the Norwegian Football League (NTF), the Norwegian Supporter Alliance (NSA) and the police gathered in Gardermoen for a security seminar and cooperation meeting.
“This meeting and this cooperation is unique in a European context. We have great support from the authorities at the highest level. The police and local authorities have a good cooperation with the clubs“, said NFF competition director Nils Fisketjønn. “All parties have worked well together over the past year and meetings like this help to strengthen the cooperation further. We get to know each other and exchange information that may contribute to a safer matchday environment“.
Before the 2014 season, however, the situation was quite different. “In autumn 2013 we had several serious incidents and we were genuinely concerned as we entered 2014. We had a bad dialogue with supporters and we received enquiries from clubs who felt that they were about to lose control of their own fans. The situation was complex,” Fisketjønn said. “The first thing we did was to get the government involved. We had several meetings and dialogue with the ministries of justice and culture. Further meetings were attended by representatives of the police, the NFF and the NTF. We also had meetings with the senior management of the police. The overall response was very good.”
In addition, Geir Ellefsen was hired as security advisor to the NFF and NTF. Ellefsen has extensive experience and a broad network of contacts in the police. The NFF believe that hiring a dedicated person who has worked with this kind of problem before was very important and has played a key role in the improvement of the situation. The plan was simple: Ellefsen visited each club and defined their problems. He also helped to strengthen the relationship with the NSA and the various supporter groups, as the NFF placed more emphasis on the supporter liaison officer (SLO) function. The police, for their part, took responsibility for safety around football matches and the dialogue with the NFF is now very good. The combination of the aforementioned measures helped in producing “a very good 2014 season and a large reduction in episodes,” the NFF said.
As it is believed many incidents are prevented through good policing and good cooperation between the police, the clubs and the supporter groups, Gordon Petterson, representing the police, said that “cooperation has been very successful” before adding: “We have a common desire to make it safe, exciting and fun to go to football matches in Norway. Compared with the countries around us, we have a smaller risk supporter environment. There are still many challenges ahead, but we must build on this relationship.”
According to the NFF, the goal is to enhance this cooperation still further. “Our most important task in the season ahead is to continue the dialogue. We will continue visiting the clubs and defining risk matches. We will also increase our focus on how visiting fans are welcomed. If we treat them in a proper way, they will respond in such,” said Fisketjønn.