Supporters Direct Europe (SD Europe) has launched its first position paper, 'The Heart of the Game: Why Supporters are Vital to Improving Governance in Football', at an event at the European Parliament in Brussels.
SD Europe, whose work is backed by UEFA, advises fan groups on how to become involved in the ownership and running of their football clubs. UEFA, which is committed to ensuring that the needs and viewpoints of supporters are taken into account, was represented at the event.
The paper covers a range of issues relating to good governance, financial sustainability and fan involvement. Recommendations to public authorities and football governing bodies include a revival of the members' association model of club ownership, expansion of existing national networks of organised supporters' groups, the implementation of club licensing and financial fair play rules in all European leagues, improving sport's social functions, stepping up the fight against match-fixing and reducing discrimination and violence.
Alongside UEFA, other key football stakeholders were present, including national associations and leagues, and members of the European Parliament, Council of Europe and European Commission.
The event included a panel discussion, and featured contributions from, among others, senior adviser to the UEFA president, William Gaillard, who joined a panel including representatives from SD Europe and the European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL). The panel discussed how football's governance and financial sustainability can be enhanced, as well as the need for increased supporter participation in governance and ownership at all levels of the game.
UEFA recognises that fans are a fundamental part of the identity of football clubs, and backs the work of SD Europe to encourage good governance within clubs across the continent through its initiatives to involve fans in the ownership and running of their teams.
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