UEFA has met with supporter representatives at the House of European Football in Nyon as part of continuing dialogue between European football's governing body and fans – a lifeblood of the game.
UEFA was represented at the annual meeting by President Michel Platini; Peter Gilliéron, chairman of the UEFA Fair Play and Social Responsibility Committee; the CEO of UEFA Events SA, David Taylor; adviser to the UEFA President, William Gaillard; and various members of the UEFA administration.
The supporters groups' delegates came from Football Supporters Europe (FSE), Supporters Direct (SD) Europe, and the Centre for Access to Football in Europe (CAFE). UEFA and the fan groups have now met five times to discuss issues of mutual interest.
The FSE network is an independent, representative and democratically organised grassroots network of football fans with members in 40 countries across Europe. Before and during UEFA EURO 2012, FSE is coordinating the project whereby fan embassies will be set up in all the host cities in Poland and Ukraine. This will promote a positive and peaceful fan culture and contribute to a festive atmosphere at the tournament.
CAFE, meanwhile, is working to offer further access for disabled fans to football games and improve stadium infrastructures with the needs of disabled supporters being taken into consideration. In particular, UEFA is also working with CAFE to manage a series of initiatives as part of the Respect Inclusion project for UEFA EURO 2012. CAFE is working closely with UEFA EURO 2012 organisers and the local organising committees (LOCs) in Poland and Ukraine to help guarantee a more accessible experience for local and visiting disabled fans and tourists.
SD Europe aims to create conditions in which supporters can secure influence and ownership of sports clubs, and promotes the value of supporter ownership to sports fans, empowering them to set up supporters' trusts or become members of existing trusts.
Various matters were on the agenda, including official fan groups' relations with UEFA, the European football family and the European political authorities; ticketing and security-related matters; disciplinary matters; supporter liaison work; facilities and access to matches for disabled and handicapped spectators; supporters and UEFA EURO 2012; and how to strengthen the relationship between UEFA and supporter representatives.
The groups gave presentations of their current work and activities, as well as future plans and projects, and put forward proposals to take the relationship forward. UEFA in particular gave an update about its financial fair play measures, which are being put into operation to introduce more discipline into club football finances and bolster European football's stability and well-being.
UEFA pledged to give the supporters' groups as much support as possible in their activities, and thanked them for the work being undertaken on behalf of football fans across Europe as part of overall efforts to improve the game.
"UEFA is the home of football, and the fans are part of the football family," Michel Platini told the supporters' delegates in Nyon. "It is important to have you here, and we are certainly here to listen to you – we take your views into consideration when we can. Football belongs to the fans as well, and it's a pleasure to be able to exchange views and hear your ideas."
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