In Italy, Lega Serie B met recently with representatives of Perugia FC and their supporters, to discuss how to improve their relationship through the Supporter Liaison Officer Project; and also how the project can be converted from an obligation to an opportunity for all stakeholders involved. In Italy, the appointment of an SLO is mandatory for the top 3 tiers. Since its introduction in 2012, Serie B has embraced the project, incorporating it into its organisation chart, as a resource, a point of reference and an investment that can create a useful tool for dialogue with supporters, the essential heritage of football, without whom football would lose its soul.
Federico Smanio, Marketing Director at Lega Serie B, also coordinates the SLO project for all clubs in the league and commented on yesterday’s meeting: “It was an extremely useful gathering because it allowed us to communicate with the club (Perugia) and its fans. Supporters are the heart and the soul of football and we should not forget that the link between the supporters and the society in which they belong is unbreakable”.
Mr. Smanio said during the meeting that Lega Serie B believes in dialogue between all stakeholders, and the SLO can undoubtedly be a catalyst to facilitate this relationship and connection between any club and its supporters. “We hope that best practices, like Perugia, can serve as an example to the whole movement and demonstrate the added value the SLO can bring to clubs, supporters and the entire football system”, he said.
Diego Riva, representing Supporters in Campo, said: “The meeting with (and between) the club and its supporters provides further proof of the responsibility supporters have and also the meaning they have for football. Perugia is part of the virtuous path of the SLO which, in Italy and abroad, also interacts with the institutions. Many problems that affect football can be overcome by listening to the requests of supporters and eliminate the moments of opposition“.
Supporters in Campo are the Italian democratic umbrella organisation for Italian trusts and member owned clubs. They were set up in 2013 as part of SD Europe’s EC-funded project “Improving football governance through supporter involvement and community ownership“. They are affiliated to SD Europe and are partners with Lega Serie B in the effort to promote democracy in Italian football; through participation of supporters in the governance and decision-making at their clubs, and also for effective implementation of the SLO project.
The Supporter Liaison Officer project was jointly developed by SD Europe and UEFA and was introduced in the UEFA Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play Regulations in 2010. 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 introduction of this licensing requirement constitutes a landmark in club-supporter relations and emphasises the importance attached to dialogue and communication between clubs and fans. Today, the SLO project is co-managed by UEFA and SD Europe; to find out more about the project, answer your questions and retrieve relevant resources, visit the SLO section on the SD Europe website.