Football Supporters Europe’s latest SLO (Supporter Liaison Officer) development project Towards the Professional Development of SLOs (TPDS) held its launch meeting in Frankfurt earlier this month, hosted by Koordinationsstelle Fanprojekte (KOS). The event saw the partners entering two busy days of meetings furthering the project’s objectives, in addition to experiencing an immersive introduction to supporter liaison with Eintracht Frankfurt’s SLO during a Bundesliga match.
FSE, as lead project partner, were joined by CONMEBOL (Confederación Sudamericana de Fútbol), Malmö University, Gdańsk University, European Observatoire of Sport & Employment (EOSE), Centre de Droit et d’Economie du Sport of the University of Limoges (CDES) and the University of Kassel with the participation of Marc Francis, Head of Fan Relations and SLO at Eintracht Frankfurt.
On the eve of the meeting, partners shadowed Marc before and throughout a Bundesliga home fixture. This provided an ideal practical introduction to the SLO role for those new to it.
Day 1 was dedicated to the educational development focus of TPDS. It featured an introduction to supporter liaison by FSE’s Head of SLO Development, Lena Gustafson Wiberg. This was followed by the University of Kassel introducing the innovative educational course on fan and spectator management that it and the University of Potsdam have developed in recent years. Next, the partners engaged in discussions on how the course can be adapted for roll out in France, Sweden, and Poland.
The focus of Day 2 centred on the development of ‘Occupational Standards’ or the specific knowledge, skills, and attributes needed for the role. It featured an introduction by EOSE to its work so far this year on the development of such standards for SLOs, and a deep dive into the methodology and the reasoning behind the need for them. Partners then discussed the latest draft of the SLO Occupational Standards, including an exercise aimed at defining what responsibilities should fit within the SLO remit, and the skills and experience needed to fulfil the role.
Speaking afterwards, COMENBOL’s Litigation Manager, Rodrigo Aguirre said: “The first in-person TPDS meeting in Frankfurt was truly exceptional. It was an absolute honour to meet the group of professionals who are spearheading this project, which holds immense potential for both European and South American football.”
Eintracht Frankfurt’s Head of Supporter Relations & SLO, Marc Francis added: “We had three incredibly productive days, combining the different perspectives and the individual expertise and experience of the participants. This has been enormously important and necessary as a first step in further developing and establishing generally applicable professional standards and norms for SLOs throughout Europe and furthering the importance of the role the SLO should occupy in football.”
The next steps for TPDS will continue with the adaption of the German educational course for implementation in Sweden, France and Poland, consultation with active SLOs to continue the development of the Occupational Standards, as well as planning for national meetings to take place in 2024.
FSE would like to sincerely thank KOS for hosting the meeting, and the project partners and Eintracht Frankfurt for their invaluable contributions.