A supporter liaison officer (SLO, sometimes also supporters liaison officer or supporters' liaison officer) is a person within an association football club (or another sports club) functioning as a bridge between the club itself and supporters of the club. The SLO builds relations with the club management and the fans through two-way communication, informing supporters about decisions made by the club and informing the club about the fan's point of view. The SLO also works with security and police as well as the SLOs of other clubs to ensure that relevant knowledge is spread to all organisations participating in matches and other events of the club.
The role has its roots in Germany, where the first SLO appeared at Borussia Mönchengladbach in 1989 in a part-time and volunteer capacity.In 1992, the German "National Concept Sport and Security" (Nationales Konzept Sport und Sicherheit, NKSS) introduced the SLO as part of its concept on how to tackle the hooliganism and violence that surrounded German football in the 1970s and 1980s. The first full-time SLO was employed in 1996, and from the 2018–19 season all Bundesliga clubs are required to have three full-time SLOs.
In a survey initiated by UEFA in 2007, a majority of the consulted national associations wanted to improve relations between clubs and fans, to enable fans to become "more serious and responsible partners".To achieve this, UEFA started backing several European supporter organisations, such as Supporters Direct Europe (SD Europe) and Football Supporters Europe (FSE). UEFA also acknowledged that football supporters had been largely ignored in the dialogue surrounding football, but should be considered valued members of the football family. One outcome of this commitment was the creation of the UEFA Supporter Liaison Officer Handbook published in 2011.
Article 35 of the UEFA Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play Regulations also requires clubs participating in UEFA club competitions (UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League) to have an appointed SLO since the start of the 2012–13 season.This was a result of several years of talks between UEFA and Supporters Direct which resulted in a UEFA approval of the SLO concept in 2009–10.
A majority of the national member associations of UEFA have also adopted Article 35 as part of the requirements for national club licenses in the top tier or top tiers of their respective league systems.For example, all clubs in the Premier League are required to, and all clubs in the English Football League have agreed to, have an SLO. As a result, more than a thousand clubs across European football are required to have an appointed SLO.
The SLO Coordinator at UEFA and SD Europe, Stuart Dykes, highlights Germany—the birthplace of the SLO role—as the leading country in terms of SLO work, with Poland and Sweden as two other good examples.UEFA has called the Swedish SLO organisation and work "best practice", and among the countries that initiated SLO projects in 2012 when UEFA introduced the SLO requirement, Sweden has come the furthest.
The type of employment for SLOs across Europe vary from volunteering to full-time or part-time employment, as a role in its own or as an additional function of someone already employed by a club in another role.UEFA prefers that the SLO is a full-time employment role, but also acknowledges both the possibility of having multiple SLOs at larger clubs, or SLOs working part-time or volunteering at smaller clubs.
The SLO standard definition in the UEFA Supporter Liaison Officer Handbook consists of five areas of responsibility:
SD Europe summarises the main areas of work as dialogue, service and prevention.It is important to note that the role is proactive, rather than reactive, and that while preventing violence is one of the goals of an SLO, as soon as violence occurs, the SLO should not intervene but leave matters to police and stewards. The appearance of SLOs in Swedish football has been cited by the Swedish Football League and Swedish police as a major contributor to a 20 percent reduction of crowd disorder.
In 2015, Doncaster R.L.F.C. was the first Rugby Football League club to appoint an SLO.
Luleå HF became the first Swedish ice hockey club to employ an SLO in June 2017.
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Edward Henrik Larsson is a Swedish professional football coach and former player, formerly an assistant manager of Barcelona. Playing as a striker, Larsson began his career with Högaborgs BK. In 1992, he moved to Helsingborg IF where in his first season his partnership up front with Mats Magnusson helped the club win promotion to Allsvenskan after 24 seasons in the lower tiers. He moved to Feyenoord in November 1993, staying for four years before leaving in 1997. During his time in the Dutch Eredivisie, he won two KNVB Cups with Feyenoord. He also broke into the Swedish national football team, and helped them finish in third place at the 1994 World Cup.
Idrottsföreningen Kamraterna Göteborg, commonly known as IFK Göteborg, IFK or simply Göteborg, is a Swedish professional football club based in Gothenburg. Founded in 1904, it is the only club in the Nordic countries that has won one of the main UEFA competitions, having won the UEFA Cup in both 1982 and 1987. IFK is affiliated with Göteborgs Fotbollförbund and play their home games at Gamla Ullevi. The club colours are blue and white, colours shared both with the sports society which the club originated from, Idrottsföreningen Kamraterna, and with the coat of arms of the city of Gothenburg. The team colours have influenced the historical nickname Blåvitt. The blue and white are in stripes, with blue shorts and socks.
Malmö Fotbollförening, commonly known as Malmö FF, Malmö, or MFF, is a professional football club and the most successful football club in Sweden in terms of trophies won. Formed in 1910 and affiliated with the Scania Football Association, Malmö FF are based at Eleda Stadion in Malmö, Scania. The club have won a record 22 Swedish championship titles and the most national cup titles with 14.
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Gefle Idrottsförening, also known simply as Gefle IF, Gefle, or locally Gif, are a Swedish professional football club based in Gävle. The club is affiliated with Gestriklands Fotbollförbund and play their home games at Gavlevallen since the 2015 season. The club colours are blue and white. Formed on 5 December 1882 as Gefle SK, the club have played fifteen seasons in Sweden's highest football league Allsvenskan, with the first season being 1933–34. The club is currently playing in Division 1, the third tier of Swedish football.
Kalmar Fotbollförening, more commonly known as Kalmar FF, is a Swedish professional football club based in Kalmar. The club is affiliated to Smålands Fotbollförbund and play their home games at Guldfågeln Arena. Formed on 15 June 1910, the club have won one national championship title (2008) and three national cup titles.
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Nils Lennart Johansson was a Swedish sports official who served as the fifth and, to date, longest-serving president of UEFA, the Union of European Football Associations. He served in the position from his election at the UEFA Congress in 1990 until 2007. In June 1998, he contested the FIFA presidential election against Sepp Blatter, losing by 111 votes to 80.
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A Liaison officer is a person who liaises between two or more organizations to communicate and coordinate their activities on a matter of mutual concern. Generally, liaison officers are used for achieving the best utilization of resources, or employment of services of one organization by another. Liaison officers often provide technical or subject matter expertise of their parent organization. Usually, an organization embeds or attaches a liaison officer into another organization to provide face-to-face coordination.
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