In the coming weeks, football fans from various clubs will protest UEFAs outdated ban on standing at European games under the slogan ‘EUROPE WANTS TO STAND’.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.
Dear Mr Čeferin,
Members of the UEFA Executive Committee,
21 years ago, UEFA introduced a ban on standing at international matches. In the name of the majority of supporters across the continent, we urge you to reconsider this ban and give us the choice of whether to sit or stand at football matches.
As you are no doubt aware, the standing ban was closely linked to several disasters in European stadia and was intended as a quick solution to improve the safety of spectators. However, a number of long-term evaluations have concluded that the existence of standing sections was NOT the cause of these tragedies.
The fact that it is possible to provide standing sections without safety or security risks at football matches is clearly evident in Germany, where approximately 100,000 fans stand up every weekend to support their team, contributing to the much vaunted atmosphere at Bundesliga matches.
In contrast, the English authorities have tried unsuccessfully to force fans to sit for the past two decades. At every Premier League and Championship game, thousands of fans stand in areas not specifically designed for standing. The situation in Germany is especially absurd, with extra seats having to be installed at a high cost for UEFA club competitions, even though fans end up standing on or between seats anyway.
In addition to the security aspect, the all-seater policy and the associated increase in ticket prices has also led to the exclusion of young and low-income fans, which should neither be underestimated nor ignored by UEFA. It is our belief that stadia must be open to people from all walks of life. The provision of tickets in standing areas is one of the easiest ways to achieve this objective.
On behalf of European fans, we would therefore urge you to re-evaluate UEFA’s position on the all-seater policy. The successful adaptation of the requirements for serving alcoholic beverages has shown that it is possible to provide more fan friendly rules through solutions at a national level.
In several countries, such as Scotland, the Netherlands or France, the strict ban on standing has been lifted in recent years and the same currently is being considered in other countries. We expect UEFA to pick up on these developments. Fan-friendly arrangements at local or national level should not be blocked by UEFA requirements, which are based on outdated evidence.
Südkurve München / Südtribüne Dortmund / Nordwestkurve Frankfurt / Nordkurve Mönchengladbach / Nordkurve Leverkusen
Football Supporters Europe
Belgian Supporters (Belgium)
Danske Fodbold Fans (Denmark)
Football Supporters Federation (England)
Association Nationale des Supporters (France)
Pro Fans / Unsere Kurve / Bündnis aktiver Fussball Fans (Germany)
Supporterscollectief Nederland (Netherlands) (Netherlands)
Amalgamation of Official Northern Ireland Supporters’ Clubs (Northern Ireland)
Norsk Supporterallianse (Norway)
Irish Supporters Network (Republic of Ireland)
Federación de Accionistas y Socios del Fútbol Español (Spain)
Svenska Fotbollssupporterunionen (Sweden)
Taraftar Hakları Derneği (Turkey)
Associação Portuguesa de Defesa do Adepto – APDA (Portugal)
FSF Cymru (Wales)
Image: BVB fans by Waldemar Brandt (via Unsplash)