This autumn a number of exchange visits between European countries has taken place within the framework of the LIAISE project. The purpose is for the countries to study and learn from each other. Two of these visits have taken place on Swedish soil where foreign stakeholders have come to study the Swedish SLO model. The most recent visit took place in Malmö.
LIAISE is an Erasmus + project involving leagues, clubs and supporter organizations in eight European countries. During the most recent visit in Malmö, SLOs and league representatives from France and Poland came to Sweden together with representatives from Supporters Direct Europe to look at the Swedish SLO work. The goal of the visit was to follow the SLOs’ work before, during and after the game between Malmö FF and IFK Gothenburg in Allsvenskan. The delegation got to learn more about the Swedish supporter culture, they got to meet and exchange experiences with the SLOs, they could follow the game behind the scenes and observe the police work on the stadium.
”I only have some positive outcomes to mention. It was interesting to follow the away fans’ journey from Malmö’s train station to their gathering point in city-centre. We are impressed by the coordination between the different stakeholders, especially on public space. It is both great and surprising to witness so many away fans in such a big city as Malmö. Although there was some moments of tension throughout the day between IFK’s fans and the police, there was no damage of public space”, says Maël Gardel Provansal, SLO coordinator in the French league.
Maël believes that both Malmös and IFK Gothenburg’s SLOs were reactive and coordinating all day long.
”It seemed that their relation with both their fans and their club were clear and efficient. SLO’s do have a crucial role, and days like these only confirm how important it is for each club and league to develop and train them. This exchange visit allowed us to gain some knowledge about the Swedish way of handling big quota of away fans, and more largely to see how SLO’s act and work on matchdays”, says Maël Gardel Provansal.
Swedish Proffessional Football Leagues thinks that the SLO role is an extremely important role in terms of collaboration and dialogue between supporters, the club and other stakeholders around football.
”I don’t always think we see exactly how important the SLO work is. It is often difficult to measure the effect of the work they do, especially in critical situations. I mean; How do you measure something that, thanks to fast proactive work, did not have a greater negative consequence? In the aftermath that we held the day after the match, we were touched on the fact that the SLOs’ actions on most occasions were absolutely crucial to have a functioning dialogue and to eliminate unnecessary frictions – something that I also had to confirm by the police who worked that night. When we get to follow our SLOs so closely and also get so much praise both from colleagues in Europe and by international experts in crowd management, you naturally become extra proud of these individuals”, says Kaveh Sarvari, Event and Private Marketing Manager, and also SLO coordinator at Swedish Professional Football Leagues.
The second exchange visit to Swedish soil was held two weeks before in Norrköping, where representatives from the Czech Republic and Portugal followed the match IFK Norrköping against AFC Eskilstuna, for the same purpose. Earlier in the autumn, members från the Swedish Supporter Union (SFSU) and a SLO delegation also visited Poland to learn from Polish SLOs and their work in connection with a match in the Polish Ekstraklasa.