New UEFA-funded scheme gives Europe’s most dedicated fans access to best practice tactics in football club governance.
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Football fans playing a frontline role in the running of Europe’s lower league and amateur clubs can develop their management skills by attending a new education project, jointly funded by UEFA and the European Union (EU).
The Fans Matter! Initiative, organised by UEFA’s supporter relations partner SD Europe, aims to share best practice tactics in football governance with supporters involved in member-run clubs and national fan organisations.
Improving knowledge of football administration
With these clubs often relying on volunteers with little training or resources, the scheme will empower fans by improving their knowledge in four key areas of football administration: club, membership, volunteers and communications.
Fans Matter! is the fourth, and largest, fan education scheme organised by SD Europe – a non-profit fans organisation co-financed by UEFA and the EU, which has distributed approximately €400,000 to its members and partners through similar projects since 2012.
“We are really excited to be getting Fans Matter! off the ground and to have such a diverse group of partners involved in the project,” says SD Europe CEO, Antonia Hagemann.
“SD Europe has enlisted the support of experts from within the football and sports industry to provide tailored training to the project partners. Through a series of exchange visits, training workshops and meetings, we hope to empower the project partners with a stronger understanding and capability to work within the complexities of modern football.”
Sharing lessons learned
Fans Matter! will initially work with member-run clubs, fans and national associations – Italy’s FIGC and Israel’s IFA - in seven countries, but Hagemann hopes that lessons learned by project participants will be shared more widely among the football community.
“We believe the project will also benefit fan organisations and national associations beyond those involved, as well as all smaller and medium-sized clubs,” she says. “ Ultimately, Fans Matter! is underpinned by our commitment to the principles of democracy, cooperation, solidarity and sustainability in football.”
UEFA serving supporters
Founded in 2007, SD Europe is one of UEFA’s two fan-focused partnerships. It is the European umbrella organisation for member-run clubs and democratic supporters groups that are or want to be involved in the ownership and running of their football clubs.
SD Europe supports its members in achieving influence in managing their clubs through good governance principles, including democratic participation, membership, accountability, volunteering, transparency and long-term financial and social sustainability.