For well over a decade, SD Europe has been fighting for more supporter ownership, supporter involvement and supporter decision making in European football from the grassroots to the elite level of the game. In 2021, this cause is arguably more important than ever.
Football supporters across Europe voted in favour of actions to make our game more democratic, cooperative, fair and sustainable at SD Europe’s 2020 AGM over a year ago.
But what were those actions?
To deliver on the will of SD Europe’s membership, actions tied directly to our organisational principles were defined and fundamentally drive the organisation’s work, whether working with supporters organisations, football clubs, football governing bodies or political institutions.
Fans, as active European citizens, football’s unions, who represent our communities, need to be recognised as the solution to many of the obstacles that face football…
Supporters need to be participating in decision-making at club level but need to also be involved in the relevant discussions at European and national level.
Only by involving the fans through transparent democratic structures can a social reboot of football be possible.
Fan dialogue, fan participation and fan ownership need to be implemented comprehensively to ensure the long-term well-being of Europe’s football clubs.
Governing bodies need to include these key devices as regulations for clubs to play in their competitions.
In some circumstances, majority fan ownership is not possible. In these instances, a minority shareholding in football clubs owned by an independent democratic fan organisation should be the minimum expectation accompanied by rights such as board representation, guaranteeing accountability from owners.
Fans are volunteers, European citizens, who dedicate countless hours towards a common goal – following their passion and contributing to the development of their clubs and football as a whole.
Supporters voices are essential to reach mutually beneficial agreements on the local, national and European level.
The relationships between national fans organisations and football governing bodies need to be improved and provide the necessary platform for fans to self-organise and create representative bodies that positively contribute to the development of domestic football.
UEFA, European Institutions and other key stakeholders need to commit further support to the objectives of SD Europe by bringing together national fans organisations and governing bodies.
National fans organisations should also receive financial support from the authorities (either directly or through SD Europe) to allow them to operate professionally and flourish in their own right.
Ultimately, it is a necessity for national associations to recognise involving supporters in governance and regulation as a key element to fine-tuning and progressing football.
We need mechanisms in place, which increase the share of solidarity payments for clubs that never reach European competitions because these clubs are at the root of social football and they provide the players of tomorrow for the big clubs.
We need the top of the game to recognise the value of football clubs from across the continent at all levels developing together and maintaining a lineage of competition from grass roots football up to the UEFA Champions League without glass ceilings.
The countless football clubs outside of UEFA competitions ultimately form the fundamental foundation that attracts so many to the European game and makes it so special.
UEFA, national associations and leagues must share a larger proportion of elite resources in order provide deserved support for the lower levels of football through revenue sharing.
The goal must be to create a fairer environment for those clubs and leagues who make our domestic competitions, stimulating their organic growth, outside of the UEFA Champions League.
Given its stature and influence in the world, football needs to lead as an example to other sectors by taking meaningful responsibility for its structural, financial, social and environmental sustainability.
Resources need to be allocated to the European and national levels to properly address this area of development which requires serious attention in an increasingly fragile world
We need to ensure that the sport pays its rightful share of the amount of financial compensation it owes for the damages it inflicts on society through income and status inequality, carbon and other noxious emissions and wastes generated by transportation, construction, mass events, merchandising and conspicuous consumption.
It is essential for UEFA to include sustainability criteria in its licensing regulations with national associations and leagues following suit in order to achieve material change without exception – from the grassroots up to the professional game.
The implementation of trained and certified community or sustainability officers at every football association and football club would ensure the set criteria is complied with.
Given the advancing prominence of women’s football, all licensing regulations must be applied to it too, maintaining these invaluable commitments across the sport.
Contact us to find out more.