2014/15 has been another busy year for the SLO project as various licensing bodies across Europe organised training workshops or events for their club SLOs, the UEFA SLO bilateral meetings were introduced, new translated and localised handbooks were published, initiatives with direct impact on the SLO were started, there was an effort for its better understanding by and cooperation with non-football stakeholders, its communications improved with a new UEFA electronic newsletter, a new SD Europe newsletter, the launch of the official twitter account and more.
The Association of Football Federations of Azerbaijan, the Spanish Football Federation and Serie B organised inaugural training meetings for their club SLOs, while the German Bundesliga (plenary and security meeting), the English Football League, the Bulgarian Football Union (round table and open workshop), the Football Association of Moldova, the Swedish FA and SEF, the Norwegian Football Federation and the Football Association of Iceland delivered further support to their members and club SLOs.
Regarding strategy and information meetings, SD Europe visited a) the Royal Belgian Football Association and the Pro League, b) Hungary for an event organised by the Hungarian Olympic Association, c) Italy for a supporter dialogue round table organised by the FIGC, d) Bulgaria following an invitation by the BFU and the Sports Ministry and e) Ireland. An update meeting was held with the Football Federation in Turkey and contact was re-established with the Bosnia and Herzegovina SLO coordinator and a strategy and roadmap for next season outlined.
UEFA SLO bilateral meetings
Last season also saw the official introduction of UEFA club SLO bilateral meetings that aim to promote cooperation and exchange of good practice between the football governing bodies and SLOs of different countries. Having started as a pilot project in 2013/14, the first bilateral meeting was held in October 2013 in Cyprus and two more were organised in Belgium and Portugal in early 2014. Since the official introduction, bilateral meetings have also been organised in Wales, Denmark, Austria, Portugal and Poland.
As the Spanish Football Association and the German Bundesliga have updated their SLO handbooks, the total number of handbook available in languages other than English (UEFA SLO handbook) is now 16. Of them, six are localised (Danish, German, Greek, Hungarian, Norwegian, Spanish) and ten are translations of the UEFA SLO handbook (Bulgarian, Catalan, Croatian, French, Hebrew, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Slovakian, Turkish). SD Europe have also created a public folder with resources related to the SLO (Council of Europe documents, toolkits, presentations, surveys, supporters charters, regulations etc), which you can access here.
In Italy, SD Europe affiliate Supporters in Campo visited every Serie A club to evaluate their SLO work as part of a project funded by Lega Serie A. The project is also being implemented in Serie B, with FC Perugia the first club to benefit from such a visit. This is a groundbreaking development in the SLO work and one we hope will serve as a best practice model for leagues and associations in other countries.
Another 2014/15 milestone for European football is the launch of ENABLE, a pan-European research project that aims to create and sustain a climate of evidence-gathering and analysis. It started in Sweden last October, following the match-related death of a Djurgårdens IF fan, and has quickly gained traction in other countries and among the various sports stakeholders (clubs, universities, police, etc).
SD Europe continues to work with stakeholders from outside the football family in developing the SLO project, in particular the police and government ministries but also the Council of Europe. We recently submitted a draft chapter for a resolution to be adopted by the Council of the European Union on the subject of police liaison with supporters, a process in which SLOs can play a key role. We also met with governments in Greece and Bulgaria last season and delivered a presentation on the SLO project, along with Werder Bremen SLO Julia Ebert and representatives from Serie A and B, at a meeting of security experts and National Football Information Points (NFIP) from around a dozen European countries in Italy.
UEFA again undertook actions to support and promote the SLO project and interaction with supporters. In March UEFA hosted a meeting with supporters’ groups in which SD Europe presented the current status of the SLO project in Europe and proposed a strategy for its future development. Moreover, at the beginning of the season, SD Europe presented at the UEFA Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play workshop in Dublin, an event that was also attended by representatives of the other FIFA confederations. The continuous evolution of the system was highlighted by the results of a survey of national supporter liaison officer (SLO) coordinators, which demonstrated the positive impact on supporter relations since the SLO requirement was first introduced into club licensing.
Finally, in an effort to improve communications with the SLO coordinators in the 54 member countries, UEFA and SD Europe have redesigned the UEFA SLO newsletter and introduced an electronic and more frequent version. Meaningful steps towards the promotion of the project to the supporter community were also taken, with SD Europe creating a news area on its website dedicated to the SLO project, launching the official SD Europe SLO twitter account (where football association news and articles relevant to the SLO project are posted) and updating its YouTube channel to include SLO training videos and interviews with national coordinators and club SLOs.
In the various meetings, training events, conferences and round tables, at least 14 club SLOs were invited in order to present their work in practice and share best practices and experiences from their countries. We would like to thank all those who contributed last season to the development of the project and in particular club SLOs Lena Gustafson-Wiberg (Djurgårdens IF), Lasse Bauer (Brøndby IF), Mateusz Szymański (KP Legia Warszawa), Tobias Larsson (AIK), Arne Christian Eggen (Rosenborg BK), Julia Ebert (Werder Bremen), Jérôme Lambert (Lausanne-Sport), Jürgen Bergmann (FC Nürnberg), Thomas Kirschner (Schalke 04), Pierre Nordberg (Malmö FF), Alina Gelsdorf (Bayer Leverkusen), Stanislav Kramarić (ŠK Slovan Bratislava), Marc Francis (Eintracht Frankfurt), Massimo Dall’Oglio (FC Chiasso) as well as Dariusz Lapinski (Polish Football Association), Federico Smanio (Lega Serie B), Jorge Silvério (Portuguese FA), Victor Daghi (Football Association of Moldova), Gavin Powell (Spanish Football Federation), Florent Souliez (French Football Federation), Lars Stensby (Norwegian Football Federation), Mats Enquist (Swedish Football League), Marco Brunelli (Lega Serie A), Antonio Talarico (Italian Football Federation), Péter Kovács (Hungarian Football Federation), Andy Pomfret (Football League), Alex Schwärzler (Austrian Bundesliga), Vugar Rustamli (Association of Football Federations of Azerbaijan), Omar Smarason (Football Association of Iceland), Andrew Howard (Football Association of Wales), Erik Reynaerts (Royal Belgian Football Association), Dimitar Christov (Bulgarian Football Union), Ben Kandler (German Football League) and, last but not least, Sefton Perry at UEFA. Apologies to anyone we have forgotten, it’s been a busy year! We couldn’t have done it without you and we look forward to an even better, more inclusive and wider 2015/16 !
Under Article 35 of the UEFA Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play Regulations, clubs across Europe are required to appoint a Supporter Liaison Officer (SLO) to ensure proper and constructive discourse between them and their fans. The SLO project originated in 2009 as a result of detailed talks between UEFA and SD Europe. It was approved by the UEFA Executive Committee in 2010, with SD Europe appointed to manage its implementation across UEFA’s 54 member associations. If you would like to learn more, visit the SLO section on the SD Europe website or get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org.
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