When Fenerbahce hosted Celtic FC for the final match of the UEFA Europa League group stage, the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) took the opportunity to organise a bilateral SLO meeting between the Turkish clubs and the SLO of Celtic FC. Also invited to participate were Loukas Anastasiadis of SD Europe and Stefan Schatz, fan project worker and former SLO of FC St. Pauli, who travelled to Istanbul to see the match together with the supporters of Celtic.
More than 30 people attended the TFF SLO bilateral meeting
The meeting was held in the impressive Şükrü Saracoğlu 1907 skybox after the morning match organisation meeting and was attended by some 30 people, representing the TFF, including their Pasolig partner, most of the Turkish first and second division clubs and the Turkish National Football Information Point (NFIP). Clubs in attendance were represented by either the board member responsible for dealing with the fans according to Turkish law, or their supporter liaison officer, or both. On arrival all participants received a printout of the UEFA SLO handbook (Turkish translation).
The meeting kicked off with SD Europe giving a standard introduction to the role of the SLO. Loukas was followed by Stefan Schatz, who talked about the history of the fan projects in Germany and at St. Pauli, and explained how the SLO work and the fan project work at St. Pauli overlap. The club representatives had the opportunity to ask questions, mainly targeted at Stefan for practical details about his work, but also at SD Europe, presenting some of the main problems they have (how to increase attendances, increase the number of new supporters at matches, selective police bans on fan material, e.g. drums and trumpets, board-level tensions passing on to fans) and contributing with ideas on how the relationship with their supporters could improve (mainly through special projects).
Participants showed great interest in the discussion
In both presentations it was underlined that a formal and structured dialogue channel needs to be established between the supporters and the clubs, preferably through the SLO project. Both speakers emphasised that it is very important for SLOs to come from the fan base or at least to have a good understanding of how fans think. The TFF for their part showed a clear desire throughout the discussion, with their interventions and comments, to see the project properly implemented at club level and also to assist the clubs in doing so through an increase of the available resources (training, implementation, planning).
The Supporter Liaison and other fan projects in St Pauli and Germany
The day after the meeting the TFF and SD Europe held a strategy meeting on the next steps and the cooperation between the two sides, coming up with an 18-month plan that will help the TFF and the clubs better apply the UEFA and domestic licensing criteria regarding the SLO project and ultimately improve the understanding of and dialogue with supporters.
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,follow the official SLO account on twitter or get directly in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org.