The relationship between UEFA and fans has made considerable progress as a result of the work being undertaken by Supporter Liaison Officers (SLOs).
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UEFA is determined to foster lasting positive relations with football fans – rightly considered as the lifeblood of the game.
It is committed to ensuring that the needs and viewpoints of supporters are taken into account in European football governance – and one project that has moved the relationship between UEFA and fans a considerable step forward involves Supporter Liaison Officers (SLOs).
SLOs play a crucial role in mediating between fans and their clubs. The introduction of the role under Article 35 of the UEFA Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play Regulations back in 2012 was a landmark in club-supporter relations.
Vienna was the venue recently for the second UEFA workshop for Supporter Liaison Officers. The event was organised in collaboration with SD Europe, a representative body for supporter groups throughout Europe, and brought together representatives of national associations, leagues, clubs and fan organisations, as well as other partners and stakeholders such as the Council of Europe.
Aleš Zavrl, UEFA’s head of club licensing, underlined the importance that UEFA places in dialogue with fans. “Supporters are important football stakeholders,” he told the workshop, “and listening to fans' interests – as emphasised by the UEFA President, Aleksander Čeferin – is vital for the good of the game in Europe.”
“Open communication and dialogue with supporter groups can help to identify and tackle some of the common issues faced in European club football.”
The latest workshop took place over the course of two days and included league and club football case studies, training and development sessions, and an overview of the fan-dialogue projects set up with the help of the UEFA HatTrick programme.
The introduction of national team SLOs with a view to UEFA EURO 2020 and beyond was another of the many topics on the table.
UEFA’s SLO workshops are the perfect opportunity to create a knowledge-sharing platform for those on all sides of the equation.
“Events like this are really important for helping football governing bodies to raise the standards of the SLO work at over 1,000 clubs across the continent,” said SD Europe SLO consultant Stuart Dykes. “The meeting also placed the SLO role in the wider context of the integrated approach to safety, security and service at football matches as set down in the new Council of Europe convention.”
“The event was well received by all who took part, and I look forward to more in the future. Thanks to all at UEFA for making it possible."
The recent gathering in Vienna showed that even though the participants face different realities in their different countries and roles, they all share the same objective of wanting to create a safe and accessible environment for everyone at football matches.
One of the main conclusions to come out of the discussions and presentations in Vienna was that by taking the initiative and creating a forum for healthy dialogue, relations can move forward and enable everyone to enjoy a game that is cherished by so many in Europe and around the world.