With the Swedish football season over for another year, the time was right for a delegation of supporter liaison officers (SLOs) to pay a visit to Germany to exchange experiences with and learn more about the work of their counterparts at two German clubs.
The visiting delegation was made up of SLOs from 12 Swedish clubs plus Madeleine Ödquist of the Swedish Football League (SEF), who organised the trip in association with SD Europe. While in Germany, the SLOs held meetings with their counterparts at FC St. Pauli and Werder Bremen. They also had a chance to shadow their colleagues at the matches St. Pauli versus Kaiserslautern and Werder Bremen versus Ingolstadt.
These two clubs were selected for visits because of the different ways in which they operate, thus ensuring the visiting SLOs were exposed to different approaches and ways of thinking. “I am very happy that we were able to go on this trip. The meetings with St Pauli and Werder Bremen were very instructive. I am convinced that we all have taken a lot of knowledge and inspiration back home with us,” said lead Djurgårdens IF SLO, Lena Gustafson Wiberg.
Meeting with Justus Peltzer at the St. Pauli Fanladen
The first port of call in Hamburg was the St. Pauli Fanladen, where club SLO Justus Peltzer explained not only how he and his colleague operate but also how they interact with the social work done by the ‘fan project’. Unlike their colleagues at the other 35 clubs in the top two divisions in Germany, the St. Pauli SLOs work independently of the club, as it is felt that in this way the level of trust among the fans is greater than it would be if they were directly employed by the club.
Three members of the delegation also had an opportunity to shadow Justus before the match, attending the pre-match security meeting with the Kaiserslautern SLO, the two safety officers and representatives of the police and the fan project.
Day two took the delegation to Bremen and a meeting with Julia Düvelsdorf, lead SLO at Bundesliga outfit Werder Bremen. The visit began with a briefing where Julia talked about how the work is divided up among her team, which consist of four full-time SLOs, a disability access officer (DAO), two additional part-time workers and three volunteers. The group then split into two, with some SLOs visiting the control room to see how the safety and security operations are coordinated, and the rest meeting the lead Ingolstadt SLO and attending the concourse meeting between the SLOs, safety officers, fan project and the police, which takes place about half an hour before kick-off.
Bremen meeting with Julia Düvelsdorf
“It was very interesting to see the difference in SLO organisation here compared with St. Pauli. The Bremen approach reminded me more of the Swedish model,” said Frida Nywertz, SLO at Örgryte IS. On her part, Julia was delighted with the concept of the visit “It was a pleasure to welcome our Swedish colleagues to the Weser Stadium and I hope to be able to go to Sweden to see how they work there soon.“, she said.
This visit hopefully marks the first in a series of exchanges between SLOs from Sweden and Germany. “We think it’s very valuable to talk to other leagues and share our experiences. We hope more leagues will buy into such an exchange,” said Madeleine Ödquist on behalf of the SEF. “It is incredibly interesting to hear how SLOs in another country work and how they deal with the challenges they face. There are differences, of course, but also many similarities in our work,” added Fredrik Jansson, SLO at Östersunds FK.
The SEF report on the visit can be accessed here.
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 requirement 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 55 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.