UEFA

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    Eintracht Frankfurt hat in dieser Saison mit dem Erreichen des Halbfinales des Europa League für eine große Überraschung gesorgt. Aber auch abseits des Platzes beeindruckt der Verein mit einem fanorientierten Ansatz, der sich auszuzahlen scheint.

    Vor dem Heimspiel gegen Chelsea sprach FSE mit Henning Schwarz, dem Geschäftsführer der Fanabteilung, sowie Justiziar Philipp Reschke, dem Bereichsleiter für Sicherheit, Fanbetreuung und Spieltagsleitung.

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    In the coming weeks, football fans from various clubs will protest UEFAs outdated ban on standing at European games under the slogan ‘EUROPE WANTS TO STAND’. The protests will begin with the Champions League tie between Borussia Dortmund and Tottenham Hotspurs on 5th March, 2019. In addition to banners in the stands, the organisers have written an open letter to UEFA explaining their stance. The letter has been signed by a broad alliance of European fan organisations.

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    Dans les semaines à venir, des supporters de différents clubs de football vont se mobiliser contre l’interdiction caduque des tribunes debout dans les compétitions européennes sous le slogan EUROPE WANTS TO STAND - l’Europe veut se tenir debout. Le mouvement de protestation sera lancé à l’occasion du match de Champions League Borussia Dortmund – Tottenham Hotspurs le 5 mars 2019. Des banderoles seront déployées à cette occasion dans les tribunes, accompagnées par cette lettre ouverte adressée à l’UEFA et signée par une large alliance d’organisations européennes de supporters.

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    Beginnend mit dem UEFA-Champions League Spiel Borussia Dortmund – Tottenham Hotspurs am 5. März 2019 werden in den nächsten Wochen unter dem Motto „EUROPE WANTS TO STAND“ Fußballfans in verschiedenen europäischen Stadien auf das nicht mehr zeitgemäße Verbot von Stehplätzen durch den europäischen Fußballverband aufmerksam machen. Mit den angekündigten Spruchbändern flankieren die Fans den im Folgenden dokumentierten offenen Brief an die UEFA. Dieser wurde von einem breiten Bündnis Europäische Fanorganisationen unterzeichnet.

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    In the coming weeks, football fans from various clubs will protest UEFAs outdated ban on standing at European games under the slogan ‘EUROPE WANTS TO STAND’. The protests will begin with the Champions League tie between Borussia Dortmund and Tottenham Hotspurs on 5th March, 2019. In addition to banners in the stands, the organisers have written an open letter to UEFA explaining their stance. The letter has been signed by a broad alliance of European fan organisations.

  •  COM_CONTENT_REGISTER_TO_READ_MORE

    In the coming weeks, football fans from various clubs will protest UEFAs outdated ban on standing at European games under the slogan ‘EUROPE WANTS TO STAND’. The protests will begin with the Champions League tie between Borussia Dortmund and Tottenham Hotspurs on 5th March, 2019. In addition to banners in the stands, the organisers have written an open letter to UEFA explaining their stance. The letter has been signed by a broad alliance of European fan organisations.

  •  COM_CONTENT_REGISTER_TO_READ_MORE

    In the coming weeks, football fans from various clubs will protest UEFAs outdated ban on standing at European games under the slogan ‘EUROPE WANTS TO STAND’. The protests will begin with the Champions League tie between Borussia Dortmund and Tottenham Hotspurs on 5th March, 2019. In addition to banners in the stands, the organisers have written an open letter to UEFA explaining their stance. The letter has been signed by a broad alliance of European fan organisations.

  •  COM_CONTENT_REGISTER_TO_READ_MORE

    In the coming weeks, football fans from various clubs will protest UEFAs outdated ban on standing at European games under the slogan ‘EUROPE WANTS TO STAND’. The protests will begin with the Champions League tie between Borussia Dortmund and Tottenham Hotspurs on 5th March, 2019. In addition to banners in the stands, the organisers have written an open letter to UEFA explaining their stance. The letter has been signed by a broad alliance of European fan organisations.

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    Earlier this month, representatives from Football Supporters Europe (FSE) visited Baku (Azerbaijan), where this season’s UEFA Europa League (UEL) final will be held. The purpose of the visit was to assess the city’s preparations for the fixture, with a specific focus on the Olympic Stadium. In addition to the usual meetings with UEFA representatives and Azerbaijani officials, FSE also consulted local supporters’ groups, human rights activists, and journalists.

    The final will take place on Wednesday 29th May at 23:00 (local time).

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    Earlier this month, representatives from Football Supporters Europe (FSE) visited Baku (Azerbaijan), where this season’s UEFA Europa League (UEL) final will be held. The purpose of the visit was to assess the city’s preparations for the fixture, with a specific focus on the Olympic Stadium. In addition to the usual meetings with UEFA representatives and Azerbaijani officials, FSE also consulted local supporters’ groups, human rights activists, and journalists.

    The final will take place on Wednesday 29th May at 23:00 (local time).


    While Baku has a lot to offer visitors, the 2019 UEL Final will take place in a challenging environment, and FSE have concerns that we hope will be addressed in the coming months.

    POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT

    According to Human Rights Watch’s 2019 World Report, the human rights situation is critical. In the context of the UEL Final, this is problematic on two levels. First, it limits the ability of outside organisations to access accurate information on the state of the preparations and the political dimension of the event. Second, it has the potential to dampen the festive atmosphere one expects from a major sporting event and undermine its inclusivity.

    Azerbaijan also has a poor record when it comes to LGBT+ rights, with the ILGA-Rainbow Index ranking it as the worst state in Europe for gay and trans citizens. This is particularly worrying given the growing number of LGBT+ fan groups who are likely to follow their team all the way to the final.

    FSE have received assurances from UEFA that they are committed to organising the final in line with the United Nations’ ‘Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights’ and other relevant conventions. UEFA also stated that they would liaise with local authorities to ensure members of the LGBT+ community feel safe and welcome during their stay in Azerbaijan. FSE are monitoring the situation carefully and will update LGBT+ fan groups in due course.

    FANS’ RIGHTS

    Football supporters in Azerbaijan are also regularly targeted by the authorities. Minor offences can often lead to a period of administrative detention ranging up to eight weeks. This repressive atmosphere is compounded by a heavy police presence, which is immediately noticeable to an outside observer. It is important to note, however, that there is a limited risk of arrest or imprisonment for foreign fans. The probable outcome in the case of a minor offence will be deportation.

    VISA REQUIREMENTS

    Citizens of most countries from the UEFA region will need to apply for a visa before their arrival in Azerbaijan. Applications have to be made online and cost 20 USD – or up to 50 USD for expedited processing (3 hours). FSE would advise travelling fans to apply at least 10 days before their planned date of departure.

    Worryingly, the visa application process requires mandatory disclosure of a person’s HIV status. While it is unclear whether the application can be denied on this basis, FSE believe it violates the right to equal protection under the law. In 2011, the United Nations General Assembly issued a Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS which specifically encouraged member states to remove any existing HIV-related travel restrictions.

    Following an inquiry from FSE, UEFA informed us that they are liaising with the Azerbaijani authorities toensure that anyone wishing to attend the final or UEFA EURO 2020 matches can do so irrespective of theirhealth status. FSE welcome UEFA’s immediate response and efforts on this subject but remain adamant that only full removal of the restrictions would be a positive outcome.

    UEFA TICKETING POLICY

    Finally, the announcement on ticketing policy for the final raises questions related to both the finalists’ allocation and the specific Azerbaijani context. With 37,500 tickets available to the general public, which represents an all-time record of 58% of the overall capacity, FSE fear that the number of tickets reserved for supporters of the two finalists will be exceptionally low. FSE representative Martin Endemann commented: “While we acknowledge that visiting Baku will require time and money, fans will travel no matter what. UEFA should take into consideration that it is the supporters of the finalists who are the most likely to travel to Azerbaijan, not the general public.”

    Access to the country is indeed limited to three international airports (Baku, Gandja and Qabala), which are mostly connected to Russia and Turkey. “Taking into consideration the high percentage of tickets madeavailable for the general public and the difficulties to travel to Baku, it is FSE’s understanding that theorganisers are relying on the local fans to fill the stadium”, Endemann added. This could prove difficult considering the ticket prices, which may be perfectly affordable for most traveling fans, but will likely be beyond the means of most local football lovers. Indeed, tickets start at 30 EUR in a city where the average monthly salary is 220EUR and the nationwide minimum salary is 70 EUR. In a country which often resorts to mobilising civil servants or forcing other groups to attend public events, this ticketing policy carries the risk of serious abuse. FSE is particularly worried about forced ticket sales, a phenomenon alleged to have occurred during the 2012 Eurovision song contest and the 2016 New Year’s Eve concert at the Olympic Stadium.

    In light of these challenges, FSE expect the Azerbaijani authorities to guarantee the safety and basic civil rights of all fans attending the final. Moreover, FSE hope that the UEL Final will draw attention to the difficulties outlined above.

    ---

    Image: 'Flame Towers of Baku' by wilth (Flickr)

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    Earlier this month, representatives from Football Supporters Europe (FSE) visited Baku (Azerbaijan), where this season’s UEFA Europa League (UEL) final will be held. The purpose of the visit was to assess the city’s preparations for the fixture, with a specific focus on the Olympic Stadium. In addition to the usual meetings with UEFA representatives and Azerbaijani officials, FSE also consulted local supporters’ groups, human rights activists, and journalists.

    The final will take place on Wednesday 29th May at 23:00 (local time).


    While Baku has a lot to offer visitors, the 2019 UEL Final will take place in a challenging environment, and FSE have concerns that we hope will be addressed in the coming months.

    POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT

    According to Human Rights Watch’s 2019 World Report, the human rights situation is critical. In the context of the UEL Final, this is problematic on two levels. First, it limits the ability of outside organisations to access accurate information on the state of the preparations and the political dimension of the event. Second, it has the potential to dampen the festive atmosphere one expects from a major sporting event and undermine its inclusivity.

    Azerbaijan also has a poor record when it comes to LGBT+ rights, with the ILGA-Rainbow Index ranking it as the worst state in Europe for gay and trans citizens. This is particularly worrying given the growing number of LGBT+ fan groups who are likely to follow their team all the way to the final.

    FSE have received assurances from UEFA that they are committed to organising the final in line with the United Nations’ ‘Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights’ and other relevant conventions. UEFA also stated that they would liaise with local authorities to ensure members of the LGBT+ community feel safe and welcome during their stay in Azerbaijan. FSE are monitoring the situation carefully and will update LGBT+ fan groups in due course.

    FANS’ RIGHTS

    Football supporters in Azerbaijan are also regularly targeted by the authorities. Minor offences can often lead to a period of administrative detention ranging up to eight weeks. This repressive atmosphere is compounded by a heavy police presence, which is immediately noticeable to an outside observer. It is important to note, however, that there is a limited risk of arrest or imprisonment for foreign fans. The probable outcome in the case of a minor offence will be deportation.

    VISA REQUIREMENTS

    Citizens of most countries from the UEFA region will need to apply for a visa before their arrival in Azerbaijan. Applications have to be made online and cost 20 USD – or up to 50 USD for expedited processing (3 hours). FSE would advise travelling fans to apply at least 10 days before their planned date of departure.

    Worryingly, the visa application process requires mandatory disclosure of a person’s HIV status. While it is unclear whether the application can be denied on this basis, FSE believe it violates the right to equal protection under the law. In 2011, the United Nations General Assembly issued a Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS which specifically encouraged member states to remove any existing HIV-related travel restrictions.t2 18 - 20328 Hamburg, Germany

    Following an inquiry from FSE, UEFA informed us that they are liaising with the Azerbaijani authorities toensure that anyone wishing to attend the final or UEFA EURO 2020 matches can do so irrespective of theirhealth status. FSE welcome UEFA’s immediate response and efforts on this subject but remain adamantthat only full removal of the restrictions would be a positive outcome.

    UEFA TICKETING POLICY

    Finally, the announcement on ticketing policy for the final raises questions related to both the finalists’ allocation and the specific Azerbaijani context. With 37,500 tickets available to the general public, which represents an all-time record of 58% of the overall capacity, FSE fear that the number of tickets reserved for supporters of the two finalists will be exceptionally low. FSE representative Martin Endemann commented: “While we acknowledge that visiting Baku will require time and money, fans will travel no matter what. UEFA should take into consideration that it is the supporters of the finalists who are the most likely to travel to Azerbaijan, not the general public.”

    Access to the country is indeed limited to three international airports (Baku, Gandja and Qabala), which are mostly connected to Russia and Turkey. “Taking into consideration the high percentage of tickets madeavailable for the general public and the difficulties to travel to Baku, it is FSE’s understanding that theorganisers are relying on the local fans to fill the stadium”, Endemann added. This could prove difficult considering the ticket prices, which may be perfectly affordable for most traveling fans, but will likely be beyond the means of most local football lovers. Indeed, tickets start at 30 EUR in a city where the average monthly salary is 220EUR and the nationwide minimum salary is 70 EUR. In a country which often resorts to mobilising civil servants or forcing other groups to attend public events, this ticketing policy carries the risk of serious abuse. FSE is particularly worried about forced ticket sales, a phenomenon alleged to have occurred during the 2012 Eurovision song contest and the 2016 New Year’s Eve concert at the Olympic Stadium.

    In light of these challenges, FSE expect the Azerbaijani authorities to guarantee the safety and basic civil rights of all fans attending the final. Moreover, FSE hope that the UEL Final will draw attention to the difficulties outlined above.

    ---

    Image: 'Flame Towers of Baku' by wilth (Flickr)

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    Earlier this month, representatives from Football Supporters Europe (FSE) visited Baku (Azerbaijan), where this season’s UEFA Europa League (UEL) final will be held. The purpose of the visit was to assess the city’s preparations for the fixture, with a specific focus on the Olympic Stadium. In addition to the usual meetings with UEFA representatives and Azerbaijani officials, FSE also consulted local supporters’ groups, human rights activists, and journalists.

    The final will take place on Wednesday 29th May at 23:00 (local time).


    While Baku has a lot to offer visitors, the 2019 UEL Final will take place in a challenging environment, and FSE have concerns that we hope will be addressed in the coming months.

    POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT

    According to Human Rights Watch’s 2019 World Report, the human rights situation is critical. In the context of the UEL Final, this is problematic on two levels. First, it limits the ability of outside organisations to access accurate information on the state of the preparations and the political dimension of the event. Second, it has the potential to dampen the festive atmosphere one expects from a major sporting event and undermine its inclusivity.

    Azerbaijan also has a poor record when it comes to LGBT+ rights, with the ILGA-Rainbow Index ranking it as the worst state in Europe for gay and trans citizens. This is particularly worrying given the growing number of LGBT+ fan groups who are likely to follow their team all the way to the final.

    FSE have received assurances from UEFA that they are committed to organising the final in line with the United Nations’ ‘Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights’ and other relevant conventions. UEFA also stated that they would liaise with local authorities to ensure members of the LGBT+ community feel safe and welcome during their stay in Azerbaijan. FSE are monitoring the situation carefully and will update LGBT+ fan groups in due course.

    FANS’ RIGHTS

    Football supporters in Azerbaijan are also regularly targeted by the authorities. Minor offences can often lead to a period of administrative detention ranging up to eight weeks. This repressive atmosphere is compounded by a heavy police presence, which is immediately noticeable to an outside observer. It is important to note, however, that there is a limited risk of arrest or imprisonment for foreign fans. The probable outcome in the case of a minor offence will be deportation.

    VISA REQUIREMENTS

    Citizens of most countries from the UEFA region will need to apply for a visa before their arrival in Azerbaijan. Applications have to be made online and cost 20 USD – or up to 50 USD for expedited processing (3 hours). FSE would advise travelling fans to apply at least 10 days before their planned date of departure.

    Worryingly, the visa application process requires mandatory disclosure of a person’s HIV status. While it is unclear whether the application can be denied on this basis, FSE believe it violates the right to equal protection under the law. In 2011, the United Nations General Assembly issued a Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS which specifically encouraged member states to remove any existing HIV-related travel restrictions.t2 18 - 20328 Hamburg, Germany

    Following an inquiry from FSE, UEFA informed us that they are liaising with the Azerbaijani authorities toensure that anyone wishing to attend the final or UEFA EURO 2020 matches can do so irrespective of theirhealth status. FSE welcome UEFA’s immediate response and efforts on this subject but remain adamantthat only full removal of the restrictions would be a positive outcome.

    UEFA TICKETING POLICY

    Finally, the announcement on ticketing policy for the final raises questions related to both the finalists’ allocation and the specific Azerbaijani context. With 37,500 tickets available to the general public, which represents an all-time record of 58% of the overall capacity, FSE fear that the number of tickets reserved for supporters of the two finalists will be exceptionally low. FSE representative Martin Endemann commented: “While we acknowledge that visiting Baku will require time and money, fans will travel no matter what. UEFA should take into consideration that it is the supporters of the finalists who are the most likely to travel to Azerbaijan, not the general public.”

    Access to the country is indeed limited to three international airports (Baku, Gandja and Qabala), which are mostly connected to Russia and Turkey. “Taking into consideration the high percentage of tickets madeavailable for the general public and the difficulties to travel to Baku, it is FSE’s understanding that theorganisers are relying on the local fans to fill the stadium”, Endemann added. This could prove difficult considering the ticket prices, which may be perfectly affordable for most traveling fans, but will likely be beyond the means of most local football lovers. Indeed, tickets start at 30 EUR in a city where the average monthly salary is 220EUR and the nationwide minimum salary is 70 EUR. In a country which often resorts to mobilising civil servants or forcing other groups to attend public events, this ticketing policy carries the risk of serious abuse. FSE is particularly worried about forced ticket sales, a phenomenon alleged to have occurred during the 2012 Eurovision song contest and the 2016 New Year’s Eve concert at the Olympic Stadium.

    In light of these challenges, FSE expect the Azerbaijani authorities to guarantee the safety and basic civil rights of all fans attending the final. Moreover, FSE hope that the UEL Final will draw attention to the difficulties outlined above.

    ---

    Image: 'Flame Towers of Baku' by wilth (Flickr)

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    Earlier this month, representatives from Football Supporters Europe (FSE) visited Baku (Azerbaijan), where this season’s UEFA Europa League (UEL) final will be held. The purpose of the visit was to assess the city’s preparations for the fixture, with a specific focus on the Olympic Stadium. In addition to the usual meetings with UEFA representatives and Azerbaijani officials, FSE also consulted local supporters’ groups, human rights activists, and journalists.

    The final will take place on Wednesday 29th May at 23:00 (local time).


    While Baku has a lot to offer visitors, the 2019 UEL Final will take place in a challenging environment, and FSE have concerns that we hope will be addressed in the coming months.

    POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT

    According to Human Rights Watch’s 2019 World Report, the human rights situation is critical. In the context of the UEL Final, this is problematic on two levels. First, it limits the ability of outside organisations to access accurate information on the state of the preparations and the political dimension of the event. Second, it has the potential to dampen the festive atmosphere one expects from a major sporting event and undermine its inclusivity.

    Azerbaijan also has a poor record when it comes to LGBT+ rights, with the ILGA-Rainbow Index ranking it as the worst state in Europe for gay and trans citizens. This is particularly worrying given the growing number of LGBT+ fan groups who are likely to follow their team all the way to the final.

    FSE have received assurances from UEFA that they are committed to organising the final in line with the United Nations’ ‘Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights’ and other relevant conventions. UEFA also stated that they would liaise with local authorities to ensure members of the LGBT+ community feel safe and welcome during their stay in Azerbaijan. FSE are monitoring the situation carefully and will update LGBT+ fan groups in due course.

    FANS’ RIGHTS

    Football supporters in Azerbaijan are also regularly targeted by the authorities. Minor offences can often lead to a period of administrative detention ranging up to eight weeks. This repressive atmosphere is compounded by a heavy police presence, which is immediately noticeable to an outside observer. It is important to note, however, that there is a limited risk of arrest or imprisonment for foreign fans. The probable outcome in the case of a minor offence will be deportation.

    VISA REQUIREMENTS

    Citizens of most countries from the UEFA region will need to apply for a visa before their arrival in Azerbaijan. Applications have to be made online and cost 20 USD – or up to 50 USD for expedited processing (3 hours). FSE would advise travelling fans to apply at least 10 days before their planned date of departure.

    Worryingly, the visa application process requires mandatory disclosure of a person’s HIV status. While it is unclear whether the application can be denied on this basis, FSE believe it violates the right to equal protection under the law. In 2011, the United Nations General Assembly issued a Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS which specifically encouraged member states to remove any existing HIV-related travel restrictions.t2 18 - 20328 Hamburg, Germany

    Following an inquiry from FSE, UEFA informed us that they are liaising with the Azerbaijani authorities toensure that anyone wishing to attend the final or UEFA EURO 2020 matches can do so irrespective of theirhealth status. FSE welcome UEFA’s immediate response and efforts on this subject but remain adamantthat only full removal of the restrictions would be a positive outcome.

    UEFA TICKETING POLICY

    Finally, the announcement on ticketing policy for the final raises questions related to both the finalists’ allocation and the specific Azerbaijani context. With 37,500 tickets available to the general public, which represents an all-time record of 58% of the overall capacity, FSE fear that the number of tickets reserved for supporters of the two finalists will be exceptionally low. FSE representative Martin Endemann commented: “While we acknowledge that visiting Baku will require time and money, fans will travel no matter what. UEFA should take into consideration that it is the supporters of the finalists who are the most likely to travel to Azerbaijan, not the general public.”

    Access to the country is indeed limited to three international airports (Baku, Gandja and Qabala), which are mostly connected to Russia and Turkey. “Taking into consideration the high percentage of tickets madeavailable for the general public and the difficulties to travel to Baku, it is FSE’s understanding that theorganisers are relying on the local fans to fill the stadium”, Endemann added. This could prove difficult considering the ticket prices, which may be perfectly affordable for most traveling fans, but will likely be beyond the means of most local football lovers. Indeed, tickets start at 30 EUR in a city where the average monthly salary is 220EUR and the nationwide minimum salary is 70 EUR. In a country which often resorts to mobilising civil servants or forcing other groups to attend public events, this ticketing policy carries the risk of serious abuse. FSE is particularly worried about forced ticket sales, a phenomenon alleged to have occurred during the 2012 Eurovision song contest and the 2016 New Year’s Eve concert at the Olympic Stadium.

    In light of these challenges, FSE expect the Azerbaijani authorities to guarantee the safety and basic civil rights of all fans attending the final. Moreover, FSE hope that the UEL Final will draw attention to the difficulties outlined above.

    ---

    Image: 'Flame Towers of Baku' by wilth (Flickr)

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    Image: 'Flame Towers of Baku' by wilth (Flickr)

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    Earlier this month, representatives from Football Supporters Europe (FSE) visited Baku (Azerbaijan), where this season’s UEFA Europa League (UEL) final will be held. The purpose of the visit was to assess the city’s preparations for the fixture, with a specific focus on the Olympic Stadium. In addition to the usual meetings with UEFA representatives and Azerbaijani officials, FSE also consulted local supporters’ groups, human rights activists, and journalists.

    The final will take place on Wednesday 29th May at 23:00 (local time).


    While Baku has a lot to offer visitors, the 2019 UEL Final will take place in a challenging environment, and FSE have concerns that we hope will be addressed in the coming months.

    POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT

    According to Human Rights Watch’s 2019 World Report, the human rights situation is critical. In the context of the UEL Final, this is problematic on two levels. First, it limits the ability of outside organisations to access accurate information on the state of the preparations and the political dimension of the event. Second, it has the potential to dampen the festive atmosphere one expects from a major sporting event and undermine its inclusivity.

    Azerbaijan also has a poor record when it comes to LGBT+ rights, with the ILGA-Rainbow Index ranking it as the worst state in Europe for gay and trans citizens. This is particularly worrying given the growing number of LGBT+ fan groups who are likely to follow their team all the way to the final.

    FSE have received assurances from UEFA that they are committed to organising the final in line with the United Nations’ ‘Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights’ and other relevant conventions. UEFA also stated that they would liaise with local authorities to ensure members of the LGBT+ community feel safe and welcome during their stay in Azerbaijan. FSE are monitoring the situation carefully and will update LGBT+ fan groups in due course.

    FANS’ RIGHTS

    Football supporters in Azerbaijan are also regularly targeted by the authorities. Minor offences can often lead to a period of administrative detention ranging up to eight weeks. This repressive atmosphere is compounded by a heavy police presence, which is immediately noticeable to an outside observer. It is important to note, however, that there is a limited risk of arrest or imprisonment for foreign fans. The probable outcome in the case of a minor offence will be deportation.

    VISA REQUIREMENTS

    Citizens of most countries from the UEFA region will need to apply for a visa before their arrival in Azerbaijan. Applications have to be made online and cost 20 USD – or up to 50 USD for expedited processing (3 hours). FSE would advise travelling fans to apply at least 10 days before their planned date of departure.

    Worryingly, the visa application process requires mandatory disclosure of a person’s HIV status. While it is unclear whether the application can be denied on this basis, FSE believe it violates the right to equal protection under the law. In 2011, the United Nations General Assembly issued a Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS which specifically encouraged member states to remove any existing HIV-related travel restrictions.t2 18 - 20328 Hamburg, Germany

    Following an inquiry from FSE, UEFA informed us that they are liaising with the Azerbaijani authorities toensure that anyone wishing to attend the final or UEFA EURO 2020 matches can do so irrespective of theirhealth status. FSE welcome UEFA’s immediate response and efforts on this subject but remain adamantthat only full removal of the restrictions would be a positive outcome.

    UEFA TICKETING POLICY

    Finally, the announcement on ticketing policy for the final raises questions related to both the finalists’ allocation and the specific Azerbaijani context. With 37,500 tickets available to the general public, which represents an all-time record of 58% of the overall capacity, FSE fear that the number of tickets reserved for supporters of the two finalists will be exceptionally low. FSE representative Martin Endemann commented: “While we acknowledge that visiting Baku will require time and money, fans will travel no matter what. UEFA should take into consideration that it is the supporters of the finalists who are the most likely to travel to Azerbaijan, not the general public.”

    Access to the country is indeed limited to three international airports (Baku, Gandja and Qabala), which are mostly connected to Russia and Turkey. “Taking into consideration the high percentage of tickets madeavailable for the general public and the difficulties to travel to Baku, it is FSE’s understanding that theorganisers are relying on the local fans to fill the stadium”, Endemann added. This could prove difficult considering the ticket prices, which may be perfectly affordable for most traveling fans, but will likely be beyond the means of most local football lovers. Indeed, tickets start at 30 EUR in a city where the average monthly salary is 220EUR and the nationwide minimum salary is 70 EUR. In a country which often resorts to mobilising civil servants or forcing other groups to attend public events, this ticketing policy carries the risk of serious abuse. FSE is particularly worried about forced ticket sales, a phenomenon alleged to have occurred during the 2012 Eurovision song contest and the 2016 New Year’s Eve concert at the Olympic Stadium.

    In light of these challenges, FSE expect the Azerbaijani authorities to guarantee the safety and basic civil rights of all fans attending the final. Moreover, FSE hope that the UEL Final will draw attention to the difficulties outlined above.

    ---

    Image: 'Flame Towers of Baku' by wilth (Flickr)

    ---

    Image: 'Flame Towers of Baku' by wilth (Flickr)

  • COM_CONTENT_REGISTER_TO_READ_MORE

    Earlier this month, representatives from Football Supporters Europe (FSE) visited Baku (Azerbaijan), where this season’s UEFA Europa League (UEL) final will be held. The purpose of the visit was to assess the city’s preparations for the fixture, with a specific focus on the Olympic Stadium. In addition to the usual meetings with UEFA representatives and Azerbaijani officials, FSE also consulted local supporters’ groups, human rights activists, and journalists.

    The final will take place on Wednesday 29th May at 23:00 (local time).


    While Baku has a lot to offer visitors, the 2019 UEL Final will take place in a challenging environment, and FSE have concerns that we hope will be addressed in the coming months.

    POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT

    According to Human Rights Watch’s 2019 World Report, the human rights situation is critical. In the context of the UEL Final, this is problematic on two levels. First, it limits the ability of outside organisations to access accurate information on the state of the preparations and the political dimension of the event. Second, it has the potential to dampen the festive atmosphere one expects from a major sporting event and undermine its inclusivity.

    Azerbaijan also has a poor record when it comes to LGBT+ rights, with the ILGA-Rainbow Index ranking it as the worst state in Europe for gay and trans citizens. This is particularly worrying given the growing number of LGBT+ fan groups who are likely to follow their team all the way to the final.

    FSE have received assurances from UEFA that they are committed to organising the final in line with the United Nations’ ‘Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights’ and other relevant conventions. UEFA also stated that they would liaise with local authorities to ensure members of the LGBT+ community feel safe and welcome during their stay in Azerbaijan. FSE are monitoring the situation carefully and will update LGBT+ fan groups in due course.

    FANS’ RIGHTS

    Football supporters in Azerbaijan are also regularly targeted by the authorities. Minor offences can often lead to a period of administrative detention ranging up to eight weeks. This repressive atmosphere is compounded by a heavy police presence, which is immediately noticeable to an outside observer. It is important to note, however, that there is a limited risk of arrest or imprisonment for foreign fans. The probable outcome in the case of a minor offence will be deportation.

    VISA REQUIREMENTS

    Citizens of most countries from the UEFA region will need to apply for a visa before their arrival in Azerbaijan. Applications have to be made online and cost 20 USD – or up to 50 USD for expedited processing (3 hours). FSE would advise travelling fans to apply at least 10 days before their planned date of departure.

    Worryingly, the visa application process requires mandatory disclosure of a person’s HIV status. While it is unclear whether the application can be denied on this basis, FSE believe it violates the right to equal protection under the law. In 2011, the United Nations General Assembly issued a Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS which specifically encouraged member states to remove any existing HIV-related travel restrictions.

    Following an inquiry from FSE, UEFA informed us that they are liaising with the Azerbaijani authorities toensure that anyone wishing to attend the final or UEFA EURO 2020 matches can do so irrespective of theirhealth status. FSE welcome UEFA’s immediate response and efforts on this subject but remain adamant that only full removal of the restrictions would be a positive outcome.

    UEFA TICKETING POLICY

    Finally, the announcement on ticketing policy for the final raises questions related to both the finalists’ allocation and the specific Azerbaijani context. With 37,500 tickets available to the general public, which represents an all-time record of 58% of the overall capacity, FSE fear that the number of tickets reserved for supporters of the two finalists will be exceptionally low. FSE representative Martin Endemann commented: “While we acknowledge that visiting Baku will require time and money, fans will travel no matter what. UEFA should take into consideration that it is the supporters of the finalists who are the most likely to travel to Azerbaijan, not the general public.”

    Access to the country is indeed limited to three international airports (Baku, Gandja and Qabala), which are mostly connected to Russia and Turkey. “Taking into consideration the high percentage of tickets madeavailable for the general public and the difficulties to travel to Baku, it is FSE’s understanding that theorganisers are relying on the local fans to fill the stadium”, Endemann added. This could prove difficult considering the ticket prices, which may be perfectly affordable for most traveling fans, but will likely be beyond the means of most local football lovers. Indeed, tickets start at 30 EUR in a city where the average monthly salary is 220EUR and the nationwide minimum salary is 70 EUR. In a country which often resorts to mobilising civil servants or forcing other groups to attend public events, this ticketing policy carries the risk of serious abuse. FSE is particularly worried about forced ticket sales, a phenomenon alleged to have occurred during the 2012 Eurovision song contest and the 2016 New Year’s Eve concert at the Olympic Stadium.

    In light of these challenges, FSE expect the Azerbaijani authorities to guarantee the safety and basic civil rights of all fans attending the final. Moreover, FSE hope that the UEL Final will draw attention to the difficulties outlined above.

    ---

    Image: 'Flame Towers of Baku' by wilth (Flickr)

    ---

    Image: 'Flame Towers of Baku' by wilth (Flickr)

  • COM_CONTENT_REGISTER_TO_READ_MORE

    Eintracht Frankfurt have surprised just about everybody this season by making it to the semi-finals of the Europa League. But they’re impressing off the pitch, too, with a fan-centred approach that appears to be paying dividends.

    Ahead of their home tie with Chelsea, FSE spoke to Henning Schwarz, the CEO of the Fan Department, and Philipp Reschke, the club’s in-house counsel, who is responsible for security, fan services, and matchday operations.

  • COM_CONTENT_REGISTER_TO_READ_MORE

    Eintracht Frankfurt have surprised just about everybody this season by making it to the semi-finals of the Europa League. But they’re impressing off the pitch, too, with a fan-centred approach that appears to be paying dividends.

    Ahead of their home tie with Chelsea, FSE spoke to Henning Schwarz, the CEO of the Fan Department, and Philipp Reschke, the club’s in-house counsel, who is responsible for security, fan services, and matchday operations.


    FSE: What does success in Europe mean for a club such as Eintracht?

    Henning Schwarz: For us, it’s the biggest thing that can happen, apart from winning our first title in 30 years and our German cup victory last year. Frankfurt is, after all, a European city. When you walk through the city you can feel how important this is for people, especially since we don’t qualify for Europe every season. We last qualified 6 years ago, so we celebrate each game. Our first match against Marseille was difficult, of course, because we were excluded from the stadium and the city centre. But after making it through the group stage and beating bigger opponents in the knockout rounds, the euphoria has continued to build.

    Phillip Reschke: As an association, we regard every European matchday, whether home or away, as a festive event. Our UEFA Cup win in 1980 is an important part of the club’s DNA. If you treat every game with such reverence, it becomes infectious: the players and coaches are motivated, and the fans put their heart and soul into the spectacle, from the noise-level to the choreography. That creates an even more intense bond between the two. Our board member, Axel Hellmann, said “When the team steps onto the pitch it is as if they have imbibed a magical potion. They consider themselves invincible.” European competitions have a completely different aura. Taking part is something very, very special for everyone involved.

    FSE: We don’t get the impression that you consider the Europa League to be a second-class competition?
    PR: Europa League games are the pinnacle for us. We only know the other competition from television. But I don’t want to judge other, more experienced clubs. We just have a different experience and outlook.

    FSE: Henning, you mentioned that Eintracht fans were excluded from Marseilles earlier in the competition. This must have been a huge blow?

    HS: Of course! Being excluded from the stadium was hard enough, but the decree prohibiting Eintracht fans from entering the city was even worse. It was obvious that we should work together with FSE and Association Nationale des Supporters (ANS) to oppose these measures.

    PR: There was no long discussion in the club. We consider a municipal ban on football fans to be a completely disproportionate and legally dubious measure. With all sympathy for security concerns, this is not – cannot be – the future of European football. That’s why we opposed it, on principle, even though we knew, given the time period involved, there would be little chance of overturning the ban. It’s a question of principles and precedent: after Marseille is before Marseille. And that is why we have an interest in ensuring that a French administrative court decides on the legality of such a measure. At the moment, we’re in the early stages of the process (we expect it to last for 18-24 months).

    FSE: We gather that you are also critical of UEFA’s sanctions for Olympique de Marseille, which were imposed in response to incidents at Europa League matches during the 2017-2018 season?

    HS: We can say that we reject collective punishment in whatever form. We have always favoured perpetrator-oriented punishment in the Bundesliga. Participating in a European competition hasn’t changed our opinion.

    PR: We recognise that UEFA, as the organiser of a competition with so many cultures, nations and clubs, has a much harder time maintaining a consistent level of order and safety than national associations. But, in the end, the result of this collective punishment, which impacts innocent fans, shows how unhelpful and counterproductive these means of sanction are.

    FSE: What services does the club offer for its fans?

    HS: We offer travel to every game, including transfers and tickets. This offer is aimed first and foremost at the 52,000 members for whom I work. Seven supporter liaison officers from the club, five of whom work full-time, also travel to away games. We make sure that we cater for fans with impairments, too, of course.

    PR: The Frankfurt fan project, is also involved, and sends 3-5 people on away trips. From the pre-planning and distribution of tickets to the journey and as a point of contact on-site, we are there for our fans at every step. We don’t think so much in terms of “Europa League tourists” who would like a nice trip, but rather of the organised fan scene. We coordinate the process and we’re available as contacts whenever we can be. In addition, we act as a buffer to and mediator with the local security forces, especially during the preparation period. This is an important role because they differ not only geographically, but also on the basis of philosophy, deployment strategies, willingness to communicate, culture etc.

    We try to prepare the host clubs and cities for our fan scene. Sometimes it works well and sometimes it doesn’t. In this context, we have worked with the Fan Department and FSE to establish a system of legal assistance where local lawyers help fans who have problems on the ground. These lawyers provide timely and high-quality assistance. We want to make sure that no one is left in a dark hole to rot. So far, we’ve had very good experiences with the respective colleagues in Marseille, Rome, Milan and Lisbon.

    FSE: Given that UEFA regulations give away fans only 5% of the overall ticket allocation, is the process of distributing tickets difficult?

    PR: Yes. In a game like the one at Chelsea, we can’t take all requests into account. That’s just the way it is. But our system privileges the regular away supporters, and we always try to find a way to bring the hard-core fans. This isn’t always easy, but we believe that we have a good system in place. We don’t have a ticket lottery.

    FSE: You’ve been spared absurd prices so far: what was the most you have been charged and how do Eintracht set prices for their away sector?

    PR: The most expensive game so far was in Milan, where the tickets of the regular contingent cost 30 EUR, while the 8,000 additional tickets we received were a bit more expensive at 40 EUR. This is OK because the host club provided us with more tickets from a higher category at our request. But you’re right, we’re yet to fall prey to exorbitant prices. For our home games, we respond to the pricing policy of each opponent. Our fans only had to pay 5 EUR in the Ukraine, so we charged Shakhtar Donetsk fans the same for the second leg. That´s just the right thing to do.

  • COM_CONTENT_REGISTER_TO_READ_MORE

    Eintracht Frankfurt have surprised just about everybody this season by making it to the semi-finals of the Europa League. But they’re impressing off the pitch, too, with a fan-centred approach that appears to be paying dividends.

    Ahead of their home tie with Chelsea, FSE spoke to Henning Schwarz, the CEO of the Fan Department, and Philipp Reschke, the club’s in-house counsel, who is responsible for security, fan services, and matchday operations.


    FSE: What does success in Europe mean for a club such as Eintracht?

    Henning Schwarz: For us, it’s the biggest thing that can happen, apart from winning our first title in 30 years and our German cup victory last year. Frankfurt is, after all, a European city. When you walk through the city you can feel how important this is for people, especially since we don’t qualify for Europe every season. We last qualified 6 years ago, so we celebrate each game. Our first match against Marseille was difficult, of course, because we were excluded from the stadium and the city centre. But after making it through the group stage and beating bigger opponents in the knockout rounds, the euphoria has continued to build.

    Phillip Reschke: As an association, we regard every European matchday, whether home or away, as a festive event. Our UEFA Cup win in 1980 is an important part of the club’s DNA. If you treat every game with such reverence, it becomes infectious: the players and coaches are motivated, and the fans put their heart and soul into the spectacle, from the noise-level to the choreography. That creates an even more intense bond between the two. Our board member, Axel Hellmann, said “When the team steps onto the pitch it is as if they have imbibed a magical potion. They consider themselves invincible.” European competitions have a completely different aura. Taking part is something very, very special for everyone involved.

    FSE: We don’t get the impression that you consider the Europa League to be a second-class competition?
    PR: Europa League games are the pinnacle for us. We only know the other competition from television. But I don’t want to judge other, more experienced clubs. We just have a different experience and outlook.

    FSE: Henning, you mentioned that Eintracht fans were excluded from Marseilles earlier in the competition. This must have been a huge blow?

    HS: Of course! Being excluded from the stadium was hard enough, but the decree prohibiting Eintracht fans from entering the city was even worse. It was obvious that we should work together with FSE and Association Nationale des Supporters (ANS) to oppose these measures.

    PR: There was no long discussion in the club. We consider a municipal ban on football fans to be a completely disproportionate and legally dubious measure. With all sympathy for security concerns, this is not – cannot be – the future of European football. That’s why we opposed it, on principle, even though we knew, given the time period involved, there would be little chance of overturning the ban. It’s a question of principles and precedent: after Marseille is before Marseille. And that is why we have an interest in ensuring that a French administrative court decides on the legality of such a measure. At the moment, we’re in the early stages of the process (we expect it to last for 18-24 months).

    FSE: We gather that you are also critical of UEFA’s sanctions for Olympique de Marseille, which were imposed in response to incidents at Europa League matches during the 2017-2018 season?

    HS: We can say that we reject collective punishment in whatever form. We have always favoured perpetrator-oriented punishment in the Bundesliga. Participating in a European competition hasn’t changed our opinion.

    PR: We recognise that UEFA, as the organiser of a competition with so many cultures, nations and clubs, has a much harder time maintaining a consistent level of order and safety than national associations. But, in the end, the result of this collective punishment, which impacts innocent fans, shows how unhelpful and counterproductive these means of sanction are.

    FSE: What services does the club offer for its fans?

    HS: We offer travel to every game, including transfers and tickets. This offer is aimed first and foremost at the 52,000 members for whom I work. Seven supporter liaison officers from the club, five of whom work full-time, also travel to away games. We make sure that we cater for fans with impairments, too, of course.

    PR: The Frankfurt fan project, is also involved, and sends 3-5 people on away trips. From the pre-planning and distribution of tickets to the journey and as a point of contact on-site, we are there for our fans at every step. We don’t think so much in terms of “Europa League tourists” who would like a nice trip, but rather of the organised fan scene. We coordinate the process and we’re available as contacts whenever we can be. In addition, we act as a buffer to and mediator with the local security forces, especially during the preparation period. This is an important role because they differ not only geographically, but also on the basis of philosophy, deployment strategies, willingness to communicate, culture etc.

    We try to prepare the host clubs and cities for our fan scene. Sometimes it works well and sometimes it doesn’t. In this context, we have worked with the Fan Department and FSE to establish a system of legal assistance where local lawyers help fans who have problems on the ground. These lawyers provide timely and high-quality assistance. We want to make sure that no one is left in a dark hole to rot. So far, we’ve had very good experiences with the respective colleagues in Marseille, Rome, Milan and Lisbon.

    FSE: Given that UEFA regulations give away fans only 5% of the overall ticket allocation, is the process of distributing tickets difficult?

    PR: Yes. In a game like the one at Chelsea, we can’t take all requests into account. That’s just the way it is. But our system privileges the regular away supporters, and we always try to find a way to bring the hard-core fans. This isn’t always easy, but we believe that we have a good system in place. We don’t have a ticket lottery.

    FSE: You’ve been spared absurd prices so far: what was the most you have been charged and how do Eintracht set prices for their away sector?

    PR: The most expensive game so far was in Milan, where the tickets of the regular contingent cost 30 EUR, while the 8,000 additional tickets we received were a bit more expensive at 40 EUR. This is OK because the host club provided us with more tickets from a higher category at our request. But you’re right, we’re yet to fall prey to exorbitant prices. For our home games, we respond to the pricing policy of each opponent. Our fans only had to pay 5 EUR in the Ukraine, so we charged Shakhtar Donetsk fans the same for the second leg. That´s just the right thing to do.

  • COM_CONTENT_REGISTER_TO_READ_MORE

    Eintracht Frankfurt have surprised just about everybody this season by making it to the semi-finals of the Europa League. But they’re impressing off the pitch, too, with a fan-centred approach that appears to be paying dividends.

    Ahead of their home tie with Chelsea, FSE spoke to Henning Schwarz, the CEO of the Fan Department, and Philipp Reschke, the club’s in-house counsel, who is responsible for security, fan services, and matchday operations.


    FSE: What does success in Europe mean for a club such as Eintracht?

    Henning Schwarz: For us, it’s the biggest thing that can happen, apart from winning our first title in 30 years and our German cup victory last year. Frankfurt is, after all, a European city. When you walk through the city you can feel how important this is for people, especially since we don’t qualify for Europe every season. We last qualified 6 years ago, so we celebrate each game. Our first match against Marseille was difficult, of course, because we were excluded from the stadium and the city centre. But after making it through the group stage and beating bigger opponents in the knockout rounds, the euphoria has continued to build.

    Phillip Reschke: As an association, we regard every European matchday, whether home or away, as a festive event. Our UEFA Cup win in 1980 is an important part of the club’s DNA. If you treat every game with such reverence, it becomes infectious: the players and coaches are motivated, and the fans put their heart and soul into the spectacle, from the noise-level to the choreography. That creates an even more intense bond between the two. Our board member, Axel Hellmann, said “When the team steps onto the pitch it is as if they have imbibed a magical potion. They consider themselves invincible.” European competitions have a completely different aura. Taking part is something very, very special for everyone involved.

    FSE: We don’t get the impression that you consider the Europa League to be a second-class competition?
    PR: Europa League games are the pinnacle for us. We only know the other competition from television. But I don’t want to judge other, more experienced clubs. We just have a different experience and outlook.

    FSE: Henning, you mentioned that Eintracht fans were excluded from Marseilles earlier in the competition. This must have been a huge blow?

    HS: Of course! Being excluded from the stadium was hard enough, but the decree prohibiting Eintracht fans from entering the city was even worse. It was obvious that we should work together with FSE and Association Nationale des Supporters (ANS) to oppose these measures.

    PR: There was no long discussion in the club. We consider a municipal ban on football fans to be a completely disproportionate and legally dubious measure. With all sympathy for security concerns, this is not – cannot be – the future of European football. That’s why we opposed it, on principle, even though we knew, given the time period involved, there would be little chance of overturning the ban. It’s a question of principles and precedent: after Marseille is before Marseille. And that is why we have an interest in ensuring that a French administrative court decides on the legality of such a measure. At the moment, we’re in the early stages of the process (we expect it to last for 18-24 months).

    FSE: We gather that you are also critical of UEFA’s sanctions for Olympique de Marseille, which were imposed in response to incidents at Europa League matches during the 2017-2018 season?

    HS: We can say that we reject collective punishment in whatever form. We have always favoured perpetrator-oriented punishment in the Bundesliga. Participating in a European competition hasn’t changed our opinion.

    PR: We recognise that UEFA, as the organiser of a competition with so many cultures, nations and clubs, has a much harder time maintaining a consistent level of order and safety than national associations. But, in the end, the result of this collective punishment, which impacts innocent fans, shows how unhelpful and counterproductive these means of sanction are.

    FSE: What services does the club offer for its fans?

    HS: We offer travel to every game, including transfers and tickets. This offer is aimed first and foremost at the 52,000 members for whom I work. Seven supporter liaison officers from the club, five of whom work full-time, also travel to away games. We make sure that we cater for fans with impairments, too, of course.

    PR: The Frankfurt fan project, is also involved, and sends 3-5 people on away trips. From the pre-planning and distribution of tickets to the journey and as a point of contact on-site, we are there for our fans at every step. We don’t think so much in terms of “Europa League tourists” who would like a nice trip, but rather of the organised fan scene. We coordinate the process and we’re available as contacts whenever we can be. In addition, we act as a buffer to and mediator with the local security forces, especially during the preparation period. This is an important role because they differ not only geographically, but also on the basis of philosophy, deployment strategies, willingness to communicate, culture etc.

    We try to prepare the host clubs and cities for our fan scene. Sometimes it works well and sometimes it doesn’t. In this context, we have worked with the Fan Department and FSE to establish a system of legal assistance where local lawyers help fans who have problems on the ground. These lawyers provide timely and high-quality assistance. We want to make sure that no one is left in a dark hole to rot. So far, we’ve had very good experiences with the respective colleagues in Marseille, Rome, Milan and Lisbon.

    FSE: Given that UEFA regulations give away fans only 5% of the overall ticket allocation, is the process of distributing tickets difficult?

    PR: Yes. In a game like the one at Chelsea, we can’t take all requests into account. That’s just the way it is. But our system privileges the regular away supporters, and we always try to find a way to bring the hard-core fans. This isn’t always easy, but we believe that we have a good system in place. We don’t have a ticket lottery.

    FSE: You’ve been spared absurd prices so far: what was the most you have been charged and how do Eintracht set prices for their away sector?

    PR: The most expensive game so far was in Milan, where the tickets of the regular contingent cost 30 EUR, while the 8,000 additional tickets we received were a bit more expensive at 40 EUR. This is OK because the host club provided us with more tickets from a higher category at our request. But you’re right, we’re yet to fall prey to exorbitant prices. For our home games, we respond to the pricing policy of each opponent. Our fans only had to pay 5 EUR in the Ukraine, so we charged Shakhtar Donetsk fans the same for the second leg. That´s just the right thing to do.

  • COM_CONTENT_REGISTER_TO_READ_MORE

    Eintracht Frankfurt have surprised just about everybody this season by making it to the semi-finals of the Europa League. But they’re impressing off the pitch, too, with a fan-centred approach that appears to be paying dividends.

    Ahead of their home tie with Chelsea, FSE spoke to Henning Schwarz, the CEO of the Fan Department, and Philipp Reschke, the club’s in-house counsel, who is responsible for security, fan services, and matchday operations.


    FSE: What does success in Europe mean for a club such as Eintracht?

    Henning Schwarz: For us, it’s the biggest thing that can happen, apart from winning our first title in 30 years and our German cup victory last year. Frankfurt is, after all, a European city. When you walk through the city you can feel how important this is for people, especially since we don’t qualify for Europe every season. We last qualified 6 years ago, so we celebrate each game. Our first match against Marseille was difficult, of course, because we were excluded from the stadium and the city centre. But after making it through the group stage and beating bigger opponents in the knockout rounds, the euphoria has continued to build.

    Phillip Reschke: As an association, we regard every European matchday, whether home or away, as a festive event. Our UEFA Cup win in 1980 is an important part of the club’s DNA. If you treat every game with such reverence, it becomes infectious: the players and coaches are motivated, and the fans put their heart and soul into the spectacle, from the noise-level to the choreography. That creates an even more intense bond between the two. Our board member, Axel Hellmann, said “When the team steps onto the pitch it is as if they have imbibed a magical potion. They consider themselves invincible.” European competitions have a completely different aura. Taking part is something very, very special for everyone involved.

    FSE: We don’t get the impression that you consider the Europa League to be a second-class competition?
    PR: Europa League games are the pinnacle for us. We only know the other competition from television. But I don’t want to judge other, more experienced clubs. We just have a different experience and outlook.

    FSE: Henning, you mentioned that Eintracht fans were excluded from Marseilles earlier in the competition. This must have been a huge blow?

    HS: Of course! Being excluded from the stadium was hard enough, but the decree prohibiting Eintracht fans from entering the city was even worse. It was obvious that we should work together with FSE and Association Nationale des Supporters (ANS) to oppose these measures.

    PR: There was no long discussion in the club. We consider a municipal ban on football fans to be a completely disproportionate and legally dubious measure. With all sympathy for security concerns, this is not – cannot be – the future of European football. That’s why we opposed it, on principle, even though we knew, given the time period involved, there would be little chance of overturning the ban. It’s a question of principles and precedent: after Marseille is before Marseille. And that is why we have an interest in ensuring that a French administrative court decides on the legality of such a measure. At the moment, we’re in the early stages of the process (we expect it to last for 18-24 months).

    FSE: We gather that you are also critical of UEFA’s sanctions for Olympique de Marseille, which were imposed in response to incidents at Europa League matches during the 2017-2018 season?

    HS: We can say that we reject collective punishment in whatever form. We have always favoured perpetrator-oriented punishment in the Bundesliga. Participating in a European competition hasn’t changed our opinion.

    PR: We recognise that UEFA, as the organiser of a competition with so many cultures, nations and clubs, has a much harder time maintaining a consistent level of order and safety than national associations. But, in the end, the result of this collective punishment, which impacts innocent fans, shows how unhelpful and counterproductive these means of sanction are.

    FSE: What services does the club offer for its fans?

    HS: We offer travel to every game, including transfers and tickets. This offer is aimed first and foremost at the 52,000 members for whom I work. Seven supporter liaison officers from the club, five of whom work full-time, also travel to away games. We make sure that we cater for fans with impairments, too, of course.

    PR: The Frankfurt fan project, is also involved, and sends 3-5 people on away trips. From the pre-planning and distribution of tickets to the journey and as a point of contact on-site, we are there for our fans at every step. We don’t think so much in terms of “Europa League tourists” who would like a nice trip, but rather of the organised fan scene. We coordinate the process and we’re available as contacts whenever we can be. In addition, we act as a buffer to and mediator with the local security forces, especially during the preparation period. This is an important role because they differ not only geographically, but also on the basis of philosophy, deployment strategies, willingness to communicate, culture etc.

    We try to prepare the host clubs and cities for our fan scene. Sometimes it works well and sometimes it doesn’t. In this context, we have worked with the Fan Department and FSE to establish a system of legal assistance where local lawyers help fans who have problems on the ground. These lawyers provide timely and high-quality assistance. We want to make sure that no one is left in a dark hole to rot. So far, we’ve had very good experiences with the respective colleagues in Marseille, Rome, Milan and Lisbon.

    FSE: Given that UEFA regulations give away fans only 5% of the overall ticket allocation, is the process of distributing tickets difficult?

    PR: Yes. In a game like the one at Chelsea, we can’t take all requests into account. That’s just the way it is. But our system privileges the regular away supporters, and we always try to find a way to bring the hard-core fans. This isn’t always easy, but we believe that we have a good system in place. We don’t have a ticket lottery.

    FSE: You’ve been spared absurd prices so far: what was the most you have been charged and how do Eintracht set prices for their away sector?

    PR: The most expensive game so far was in Milan, where the tickets of the regular contingent cost 30 EUR, while the 8,000 additional tickets we received were a bit more expensive at 40 EUR. This is OK because the host club provided us with more tickets from a higher category at our request. But you’re right, we’re yet to fall prey to exorbitant prices. For our home games, we respond to the pricing policy of each opponent. Our fans only had to pay 5 EUR in the Ukraine, so we charged Shakhtar Donetsk fans the same for the second leg. That´s just the right thing to do.

İLETİŞİM

Football Supporters Europe eV

Koordinationsbüro

Postfach 30 62 18
20328 Hamburg
Germany

Tel.: +49 40 370 877 51
Fax: +49 40 370 877 50
Email: info@fanseurope.org

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