SD Europe Fund Update: Unsere Kurve

More democracy, more solidarity, more fan involvement! The SD Europe Fund channels resources directly to supporters organisations and member-run football clubs to develop their own projects to build a better football.

In a three-part series, one year on from the launch of the SD Europe Fund, we now touch base with the projects which were able to proceed despite the pandemic to receive an update on their progress.

In a three-part series, one year on from the launch of the SD Europe Fund, we now touch base with the projects which were able to proceed despite the pandemic to receive an update on their progress.

For the second article, we move on from SD Scotland’s project focusing on volunteering to receive an update from the national supporters organisation in Germany, Unsere Kurve, on their project by speaking to Helen Breit, the organisation’s Chair. Unsere Kurve’s project aimed to organise a national fans congress.

Who are Unsere Kurve? Unsere Kurve, is a cross-club association of organised football fans in Germany, in other words, a national supporters organisation. They are the largest advocacy group for active football fans in Germany, and are committed to maintaining fan culture, freedom for fans and advocate for the 50+1 rule. The organisation was officially founded in Bielefeld, Germany in 2005. Unsere Kurve pride themselves on developing formal, constructive dialogue with clubs, the DFL, the DFB, UEFA and political decision-makers around the football landscape, working specifically on the interests, ideas and goals of the active football supporter.

What is the importance of completing the project, albeit adjusting a lot, especially during a pandemic?

“It was incredibly important to see the project through to completion. We had originally planned to hold a conference, with the aims of beginning a discussion with the many fan organisations in Germany and facilitating exchange on our common aims and issues of fan policy. When the Corona pandemic hit, it became obvious more than ever before that German football is facing problems that need to be tackled with urgency. 13 of the clubs in the first and second division were facing insolvency when the last round of funds from the TV distribution deals were temporarily withheld due to the interruption of play. Many other problems have been around for a long time but became especially visible under the exceptional circumstances of the pandemic.

Thanks to the flexibility of the SDE Fund, we were able to adjust our project to the current circumstances and launch the network “Zukunft Profifußball” (future of professional football). Through this initiative we have developed four policy papers: integrity of competition, clubs as a base of democracy, social responsibility, and football as a spectator sport. These lay the foundation for the reforms that not only we but innumerable fans in Germany are asking for!”

What compromises did you have to make to the project activities because of the pandemic?

“Of course, meeting up and talking to each other in person was out of the question. We had to rely entirely on online collaboration, but that worked really well! We had a countless number of meetings and exchanged information via email and other online platforms. Of course it’s a shame that all the great people who have been – and still are – collaborating with the network haven’t had a chance to meet in real life yet. However, we’ve promised ourselves to make that happen as soon as possible.”

How would you summarise the success of the project so far?

“The project was a major success – even if reforms still haven’t been implemented in German professional football. What we did succeed at was to turn long-standing criticism into constructive policies and give an impulse to eventually affect the necessary reforms. This would not have been possible without the financial support of the SDE Fund. We have produced four fantastic, well-founded and well thought out policies, had discussions with a number of clubs and associations, have been part of the DFL taskforce on the future of professional football, are currently part of the DFB taskforce on economic resilience in the third division, and will continue to make use of everything in our power to effect reform within German football.”

Next time, we present the final update from Israfans, the national supporters organisation in Israel.

You can find out more about the SD Europe Fund here.