The FSE Board convened in an unseasonably warm Munich last week (25th to 26th October) with a view to tackling some of the most pressing issues and action points that arose from the European Football Fans Congress in Lisbon. The meeting was kindly hosted by Club Nr. 12 e. V, an association of active FC Bayern München fans and a long-standing member of our network.
The first subject for discussion was the implementation of the FSE Constitution, which was amended at the Biennial General Meeting (BGM) to better reflect current organisational realities. We are happy to report that the German authorities have consented to the proposed changes, meaning that the new articles are now in effect.
We also considered the impact of facial recognition technology on football fans. Given recent developments in Germany and the United Kingdom, where police forces have begun deploying it at football matches, we sought advice from several civil liberties campaign groups. We share many of their concerns around the right to privacy, association, and expression, not to mention the potential for the technology to be used in a discriminatory manner. This, unfortunately, appears to be the case for football fans, and as such, we reiterate FSE’s unequivocal opposition to fans being used as test subjects for controversial security measures.
On Saturday morning, we turned our attention to Fans Embassies at EURO 2020. While we are still in the planning stages, we do intend to recruit a project manager in the next month. As part of this discussion, we also touched upon planning and contingencies for the 2019 FIFA Club World Cup, UEFA Women’s EURO 2021, and 2022 FIFA World Cup.
As you might expect, UEFA club competitions dominated the rest of the meeting.
After the European Leagues Club Advisory Platform meeting in London earlier this month, we have good reason to believe that the original reform concept is, thankfully, dead in the water. That said, UEFA is still committed to rehauling the format of its competitions—a process that has arguably already begun with the addition of the Europa Conference League from 2021. Our red lines will be those set out at this year’s Congress:
- Promotion and relegation based on sporting performance – from the bottom of the pyramid to qualification for European competitions.
- No to closed leagues or franchise football – qualify based on performance, not exclusively through history or wealth.
- Weekends are for domestic leagues – protect fan culture, home and away.
- Competitive leagues – keep domestic competitions open and fair.
- Protect the pyramid and cup competitions – domestic football comes first.
- Share the wealth – redistribute revenue from elite football across the whole game
But this is only half of the equation. All UEFA competitions, regardless of group size or the specifics of solidarity payments, must be focussed on the needs of match-going fans, especially those who travel away. This is why, you will remember, FSE committed to establishing a campaign focussed on away fans over the 2019-2021 cycle.
Work has already begun, with a revamped Away Fans Survey and a more comprehensive approach to the collection of ticket price data—a task made even more important after the introduction of a price cap in the Champions League and Europa League. Early results are both encouraging—a marked increase in fans completing the survey—and frustrating—a familiar charge sheet against the usual suspects.
We are well aware, however, that much more needs to be done to coordinate our efforts with supporters’ groups. The Board have therefore agreed to create a specific working group—chaired by one of our number, Gregor Weinreich from Club Nr. 12 e. V—to inform our policy and decision making on this subject. Those who are interested in participating can expect more information in the coming weeks.
In the meantime, we hope some of you may consider applying to host the 2020 Summer Network Meeting.
The Board of Football Supporters Europe
Corky, Gregor, Herjan, Hüseyin, Jim, Kevin, Mark, Martha, Michael, Pierre, Ronan