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b_350_178_16777215_00_images_photos_psinterviewsbild.jpgWithin the framework of the ProSupporters project, FSE wants to create a European handbook on Supporters Charters. In our opinion, contrary to the general belief, a Supporters Charter shouldn´t be a code of conduct, but a negotiated agreement between fans and clubs. In the Supporters Charter, they define their relation and positions towards each other on equal footing. As a result, mutual understanding should be enhanced, as opposed to the often feared creation of more restrictions.

That’s why the consultation group that worked on the handbook, which will be published in June 2013, was compiled by a balanced representation of both sides, so of fans representatives and that of different institutions of football across Europe. Many of you may think that the meeting was full of controversies, but: far from it! Even for us at FSE, it was really surprising how much support there was for our definition of supporters charters on both sides. All parties consider it a real chance and a tool for improving the relation between supporters and clubs.

If you don’t believe it, here you have a few statements – first from the fans´ point of view.

And these are the statement of the involved representatives from the different football institutions.

 


From the fans´ point of view

Do you think this handbook is a good way for the fans to improve the relationship with the clubs?

Per Arne Flatberg, board member of the Norsk Supporterallianse (NSA), Norway: “I think having a handbook being endorsed by so many parties of the football will certainly help both clubs and fans to actually get together and talk about their issues. So I hope that will be a good thing.”

Martin Endemann, FSE Committee member and spokesperson of Bündnis Aktiver Fußballfans (national Alliance of Active Football Fans - BAFF), Germany: “I actually think that it is a good starting point for building up a good relationship at many clubs, especially at clubs where there hasn´t been a dialogue established in whatever form.”

Are there any parts in the handbook or around the supporters charter you find challenging? If so, which and why?

Tomas Carnogursky, Head of the (fan-driven) Fans‘ Project at FC Slovan Liberec: “I can say I am quite satisfied with the overall content, apart from very few really minor details. I don´t feel that there are any major challenging issues.”

Martin Endemann, FSE Committee and BAFF, Germany: “At the end of the day, it is up to the fans and clubs to decide what is in their respective final supporters charter and they have to see how they interact with each other and what parts they want to use from the handbook to put them in their supporters charter. It’s the dialogue about it, that counts. I think there will be challenges, but that’s nothing unusual – if both parties want this, everybody can benefit from it.”

Do you think many fan groups and clubs will use this handbook to create a supporters charter?

Per Arne Flatberg, NSA, Norway: “I think, getting a fans charters is a good thing both for the clubs and for the fans, so I don´t see actually any reason why they should not. It is much easier not to talk to each other than to actually get together and sort out the issues that there are. I think it will be good for both fans and clubs if they actually did this. It can help us all as fans on a daily basis.“

 


These are the statements of the involved representatives from the different football institutions.

Why do you think it is so important to have such a handbook?

Pedro Velazquez, Deputy Head of the Sport Unit at the European Commission: “I think it is important, there are such strong links between clubs and supporters that relations between them can and should be reflected by a paper that is agreed by both parties. It can bring only benefits for supporters, but also for the clubs. I think that is a win-win situation for all parties.”

William Gaillard, the Advisor to the UEFA President Michel Platini: “It´s something that all clubs at one point should endeavour to accomplish and all supporters also should endeavour to accomplish. Once this dialogue takes place, the shape and form of the document which comes out of the dialogue can vary tremendously and the handbook actually just says that. It´s for both parties at local level to decide how they want to illustrate their relationship and put it on paper. It´s always a celebration of the relationship.”

Jo Vanhecke, Chair of the Standing Committee on the Convention on Spectator Violence at the Council of Europe (T-RV): Well, a supporter charter is part of a dynamic of a dialogue in between fans and clubs. It has proven to be of added value. Each kind of dialogue in between fans and all other partners involved can seriously increase a positive atmosphere in and around the stadium.”

What do you think, to what extent it will be helpful for fans and clubs who want to use the handbook?

Jo Vanhecke, T-RV: “I think in general, there is a lot of misunderstandings on each other´s views and on each other´s needs. Such a supporters charter can help to overcome a lot of emotional reactions from both sides, from the clubs and from the side of the supporters. It can help to create a kind of feeling of unity which can stimulate again a good atmosphere.”

Ezéchiel Abatan, Public Policy & Research Manager at the European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL): “I think it is also a good way of showing fans and clubs that they can learn from each other to a great extent. Then, what is also important and which has been underlined in all the discussions on this document, is that the handbook and the concept of a supporters charter has to consider the principle of subsidiarity. This should always be highlighted in the sense that nobody knows what is the particular situation at local level is and what are the relationships between the local fanbase and local clubs better than those local stakeholders themselves. We can assist them, propose them examples of best practices but at the end of the day they are the only ones who can make a decision as to the opportunity and the manner to adapt the examples of the Handbook to their own local realities.”

As for your organization, do you think you will support/promote this handbook?

William Gaillard, UEFA: “We´ve always promoted dialogue. We´ve always funded supporters initiatives. We´ve always encouraged supporters, wherever it is possible, to take even a financial stake in their club. And at the same time it [editor´s note: a Supporters Charter] is very much something that produces a win-win-situation, because if clubs have a good relationship with the supporters whenever the times are a little bit rough and that always happens for an organisation, they know that behind the club there are thousands of people who are committed to the wellbeing of that club. And so for us it is natural that we would encourage and support such a dialogue.”

Pedro Velazquez, European Commission, Sport Unit: “The European Commission has always stated that supporters are part, a very important part in good governance in football. It is important to involve them. In public documents we have always stated our support to this process. Now, concretely on the handbook, I am very happy to have witnessed today and yesterday, that there is a very good quality work going on and I am looking forward to the handbook.”

What were the meetings like? Did everybody share the same opinion or were there big controversies?

William Gaillard, UEFA: “There were many diverse opinions, there was a dialogue and there was an exchange of views and we did not avoid the sticky points or the difficult subjects. That is what a dialogue is all about.”

Pedro Velazquez, European Commission, Sport Unit: “Well, actually to me it is very important to see that around the same table we can have the representatives of the different partners of the project from the fans’ side, but also representatives of the Council of Europe, from professional leagues, from clubs, from UEFA.”

Jo Vanhecke, T-RV: “I think in general the process we have been through to create this handbook has proven to be of added value already as such, because I think it is one of the first times a lot of different sides sit together and discuss a procedural way of establishing dialogue in between clubs and supporters."

 


This is a video with different statements of the participants:

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