Having started as a pilot project in 2013/14, UEFA club SLO bilateral meetings aim to promote cooperation and exchange of good practice between the football governing bodies and SLOs of different countries.
The first bilateral meeting took place in Cyprus last October, when Phivos Constantinides, SLO coordinator of the Cyprus Football Association, organised a meeting between local SLOs and Marc Francis, lead SLO at Eintracht Frankfurt. Marc talked about his day-to-day duties and his activities before, during and after matches. He also answered lots of questions, as the SLO project in Cyprus is still young in terms of implementation.
The parties involved found the meeting very constructive, as Phivos explained: “All the SLOs were very happy at the end of the discussion. They had the opportunity to ask all sorts of questions, and I believe that this was the best course on SLO duties that anybody can have. Marc is an extremely experienced SLO. Eintracht have five SLOs altogether and have had this position within their structure for 20 years. Once our SLOs realised the depth of Marc’s involvement with fans, his background and the way he handles things with the club, they raised issues relating to real cases and discussed problems they are facing almost every day. This discussion continued over lunch, so this interaction with Marc goes down as a very successful meeting“.
A second bilateral meeting was held at the Europa League fixture between Standard Liege and IF Elfsborg in December, when Elfsborg SLO Erik Sjölin met with representatives of the Royal Belgian Football Association and the Belgian Pro League. This was followed by another event involving Marc Francis, this time at the invitation of Jorge Silvério, SLO coordinator at the Portuguese Football Association.
These positive examples from last season have encouraged us to expand the programme of bilateral meetings this term. So far we have already helped governing bodies in Wales, Denmark and Austria to organise such exchanges.
In the coming months, SLO coordinators in over 20 countries will have an opportunity to host a bilateral meeting to share and disseminate good practice between local and visiting SLOs. In addition to Champions League and Europa League fixtures, EURO 2016 qualifying matches also offer them a chance to broaden their perspective on the SLO work at European level or help their colleagues at other national associations to expand their knowledge and understanding of the role. Obviously, each country has its own problems and issues, but we hope that this sharing of good practice will be one more step towards the successful implementation of the role across Europe.