The public image of the traditional football supporter is often stereotyped and generalised and, in the media, supporters are often depicted quite negatively. For us at the Swedish Professional Football Leagues, we consider the football supporters to be very important to us, and in our view the Swedish supporter culture is something positive that needs safeguarding.
In our surveys, 92% of all spectators in our stadiums describe the atmosphere created by the active supporters as the most positive match day experience, characterised by elaborate “tifo” displays and chants that enhance and enrichen the experience around football.
The word support means to help, and to help and improve your own club is the very foundation of the supporter movement which explains the strong symbiosis between the club and its supporters. Therefore, our ambition is to support, safeguard and encourage the diversity of the positive supporter culture in Sweden.
Unfortunately, violence, threats and inappropriate behaviour from spectators sometimes occur in connection with sports events. However, violent behaviour has no place in football and is therefore not to be regarded as a part of the positive supporter culture we encourage. However, we acknowledge that unfortunate events can occur in connection with our matches, but the mistake of making the connection between supporter culture and violence is unfortunate and a much too simplified explanation for a complicated issue.
Certain individuals who find themselves in difficult situations and inappropriate behaviours of certain groups can create problems, but we refrain from implying that there is an inherent problem with the individual supporter per se and the supporter culture as such.
Regrettably, these kinds of behaviours have had the unfortunate effect to scare off other spectators and visitors to our stadiums, as well as causing sponsors and even leaders and staff to end their commitments. This causes an incredible damage to football, and we identify this to be a major obstacle for our sport to grow and develop.
We have chosen to take a stance and distance our organisation from any sort of violent behaviour that causes harm to the Swedish Professional Football Leagues and our clubs, and our objective is to concentrate our efforts to minimise the occurrence of such inappropriate incidents.
It is increasingly important to both get a better understanding of the supporter culture that exists in order to help and promote the positive forces, but also to work on an individual basis to minimise any occurrences of undesired behaviours and disturbances.
To have a shared vision and to ensure the protection of a set of common values that are an integral part to a positive supporter culture is key in order to respect a good behaviour. Furthermore, to clearly define what is not accepted is crucial for a common understanding and to gain acceptance in broader supporter groups.
The positive support from the core fans is one of the greatest assets of the Swedish Professional Football Leagues, which is clearly demonstrated by leaders, players and and the spectators in our stadiums. The vibrant culture on the stands brings football to life. The Swedish Professional Football Leagues encourages an expressive and progressive supporter culture, which invigorates Swedish football with its engaging cheers and songs together with a strong visual impression of the coordinated tifo displays in the stands. A positive supporter culture can be demonstrated through countless expressions. Our ambition is to encourage and safeguard these welcoming, safe, secure and atmospheric events, which we see as the very definition of a positive supporter culture.
Unwanted behaviours are the ones that conflict with one or several of these keywords. Threats, violence, sexism, racism or attacks on personal integrity or security are all examples of unacceptable behaviour, before, during and after the match.
In order to reduce these, the Swedish Professional Football Leagues will actively cooperate with the club SLOs, SFSU and other supporter organisations, clubs, players, and other key stakeholders as well as the police authorities and stadium owners to increase understanding and knowledge about the issues. Unconditionally, the rules and safety regulations surrounding every match event must be respected.
We must act clearly and decisively to achieve our joint ambition, with collective support for the positive elements together with firm measures to reduce and, in the long-term, eradicate any unwanted incidents.
Football is for the people, and everyone should feel welcome, safe and secure at our atmospheric match events.