Dialogue with fans crucial – UEFA President

UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin has met with supporters' groups in Nyon - and emphasised that listening to fans' interests is vital for the good of the game in Europe.

Poland supporters in good heart at UEFA EURO 2016
Poland supporters in good heart at UEFA EURO 2016 ©AFP/Getty Images

UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin has stressed the importance of having “an open line of communication” with football fans, as he held his first meeting with supporters groups since being elected to the helm of European football’s governing body.

Mr Čeferin held a briefing in Nyon with groups which included the Centre for Access to Football in Europe (CAFE), Supporters Direct Europe (SD-Europe) and Football Supporters Europe (FSE). The UEFA President pointed out the need for “close cooperation” with football fans, as well as taking their interests into account.

“Supporters’ groups are vital members of the football community, and it is imperative that we have an open line of communication with them,” he said.

UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin (front row, centre) met with supporters' groups in Nyon
UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin (front row, centre) met with supporters' groups in Nyon©Getty Images

“Football would not be the game it is today without the passion and dedication of its fans. I hope that by cooperating closely, we can make important decisions for the good of European football.” 

Among the topics of discussion at the meeting were improving access for disabled fans wanting to attend football matches, as well as efforts to tackle violence, racism and homophobia at games.

“It was a great opportunity to meet with the UEFA President and to present on UEFA and CAFE’s successful collaboration, which began in 2009,” said Joanna Deagle, managing director of CAFE. 

Jean-Pierre Inacio was able to attend a UEFA EURO 2016 match
Jean-Pierre Inacio was able to attend a UEFA EURO 2016 match©UEFA.com

She added that there is still work to be done to ensure that those with disabilities have greater access to watching matches, but also emphasised that this issue has the UEFA President’s full support.  

“It was clear that wider access and inclusion for disabled people remains a priority for the President, and CAFE is determined to support UEFA in ensuring continued progress in this area,” she added.

Ronan Evain, the CEO of FSE, said he welcomed the opportunity to discuss with UEFA the possibility of working together to try and reduce violence at football matches around the continent.

He also added that his organisation, which is based in Hamburg and was created in 2008, would strive to eradicate racism and homophobia in football, as well as increase the participation of women and refugees. 

Iceland's fans celebrate with their team at UEFA EURO 2016
Iceland's fans celebrate with their team at UEFA EURO 2016©Getty Images

"This first meeting with President Aleksander Čeferin shows the way to a very productive cooperation between UEFA and fans representatives,” Evain said. 

“There are many challenges to be addressed, but we are confident that continuous dialogue will allow us to improve European football for all supporters."