"The supporters are the lifeblood of professional football – they are the identity of the clubs. Owners, coaches and players change but supporters always remain." Michel Platini, 2009.
UEFA is committed to ensuring that the needs and viewpoints of supporters are taken into account.
That is why UEFA has officially backed the formation of Football Supporters Europe (FSE), an independent, representative and democratically organised European association of football supporters.
Since 2009, FSE has been recognised as the official interlocutor on fans' issues and as one of the key stakeholders of UEFA.
UEFA has engaged in a continuous dialogue with FSE on various matters as well as in support of the following particular initiatives and projects relating to fans' involvement:
• Annual meetings between FSE and relevant representatives from UEFA
• A seminar on fan hosting called Football, Host Cities and Respect
• The European Football Fans' Congress of FSE in 2008 (London), 2009 (Hamburg) 2010 (Barcelona), 2011 (Brondby and Copenhagen) and 2012 (Istanbul)
• Fan embassy projects at major tournaments and anti-racism activities such as the UEFA EURO 2012 project: Respect Fan Culture
UEFA also backs the work of Supporters Direct across Europe, the organisation that advises fan groups on how to become involved in the ownership and running of their football clubs.
Supporters Direct is working together with UEFA to implement supporter liaison officers (SLO) at clubs as part of the UEFA Club Licensing and Fair Play Regulations. More explanation of the SLO project can be found in UEFA's SLO handbook.
Under Article 35 of UEFA's Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play Regulations, clubs across Europe will be required to appoint a supporter liaison officer (SLO) in time for the 2012/13 season to ensure a proper and constructive discourse with their fans. The introduction of this UEFA licensing requirement constitutes a new landmark in club-supporter relations and emphasises the importance UEFA attaches to dialogue and communication between clubs and fans.
UEFA is now working closely with Supporters Direct on training and information offerings designed to facilitate the introduction of this new SLO requirement, which centres on improving communications between the various football stakeholders and providing a focal point for supporters to organise themselves better and feed their insights into club decision-making processes.
There can be no doubt that the role of the club SLO is a very challenging one, but with the commitment of everyone involved, from governing bodies, clubs and supporters to the police, stewarding contractors, local authorities and transport companies, we are convinced that, over time, SLOs will become a vital feature of the European game and contribute to an even better matchday experience for one and all.
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