A new project to improve the matchday experience.
EOSE is proud to announce its involvement in TPDS, a new Erasmus+ sport project aimed at promoting safety, security and service at football matches and tournaments. This three-year transnational partnership is coordinated by Football Supporters Europe (FSE) with EOSE playing a leading role in developing occupational standards for the role of Supporter Liaison Officer (SLO).
What is an SLO and why do we need them?
Healthy competition is a vital ingredient in sport, but sometimes passions run too high, and violent disorder can result. This why FSE for the last 10 years, with the full backing of UEFA and the EU, has been developing and promoting a new role in the game – Supporter Liaison Officer (SLO). SLOs act as a bridge between football clubs and their fans by providing a two-way flow of information and dialogue. First created in Germany in the early 2000s, SLOs ensure that supporters’ voices are heard in the club, they work to reduce the likelihood of violent confrontation and create a more enjoyable match day experience for everyone in the stadium. Most European clubs in the higher divisions and their federations now employ SLOs. Lower division clubs often use volunteers. SLOs are also employed by federations to play a similar role for national teams during international competitions.
Better Training, Recruitment and Retention
Because SLOs are relatively new, the role is not well defined and crucially, there are few training opportunities available. Only a small minority of football associations and leagues offer the necessary training at present. A large number of SLOs across Europe receive only very basic instruction, and sadly many receive no training at all. ‘Learning by doing’ is the name of the game. In addition, SLOs often do not carry out the function in a full‐time role. In the lower-level clubs where many SLOs are volunteers, given the lack of support and recognition, the churn rate is high, so recruitment and retention are also challenges that need to be met.
Currently, the UEFA Academy delivers a four-day programme to cover the basics, but most stakeholders (including UEFA) agree that longer and more detailed training is necessary for an SLO to practise competently in the job. The German University of Kassel has attempted to bridge this gap by offering a 27-day programme over 18 months. This programme is welcome, but it is not yet fully rooted in a proper analysis of the role.
TPDS – A New Project to Develop the SLO Workforce
FSE has addressed this need by setting up Towards the Professional Development of SLOs (TPDS), consisting of seven partners with a planned completion date of May 2026. TPDS aims to create a European-wide competence-based modular training programme which can be adapted to different national contexts. EOSE’s specific role is to help the project develop occupational standards which will underpin the modules.
A robust set of occupational standards for the role will also help to improve recruitment by clarifying SLO roles and responsibilities and defining the types of skills and personal qualities that a new recruit will need. The standards will also help managers to evaluate SLO performance on the job, reward achievement, identify skills gaps and signpost the SLO to appropriate modules to assist their ongoing development, thereby supporting workforce retention.
Extending the SLO Role Globally
The SLO role is a European initiative, but it has already seized global attention in the world of football. For this reason, TPDS has also included CONMEBOL, the South American Football Confederation. Part of TPDS will be evaluating the potential of the SLO role to be adopted by clubs in major footballing nations such as Brazil and Paraguay.
The Project is Up and Running!
TPDS held its first in-person partner meeting hosted by Eintract Frankfurt on 9-10th October. The partners reviewed the SLO role, examined the current German training offered by the University of Kassel and began the process of developing the occupational standards which will be carried forward by a Technical Working Group consisting of SLO representatives from Czechia, England, Germany, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Scotland and Sweden.
The evening before the meeting, partners had the opportunity to work shadow Eintract’s SLO, Marc Francis, before and during a Bundesliga match against newly promoted Heidenheim and to meet key stakeholders including the event day manager, club security, local police and the Heidenheim SLO. This gave the partners a much clearer idea of the reality and importance of the SLO role.
The TPDS Partnership
The following organisations are partners in TPDS:
- FSE – Football Supporters Europe (Germany) – Coordinator
- EOSE – European Observatoire of Sport and Employment (France)
- University of Kassel (Germany)
- University of Limoges (France)
- Malmö University (Sweden)
- University of Gdańsk (Poland)
- CONMEBOL – Confederation of South American Football (Paraguay)
In addition to these, FSE is able to access the expertise of a wide range of practising SLOs and their managers from across Europe and be able to facilitate communications and consultation with all the relevant European stakeholders in football, including police and local authorities. CONMEBOL will be able to engage football federations and their clubs in South America to consult on the transitioning the SLO approach there.
Speaking afterwards, COMENBOL’s Litigation Manager, Rodrigo Aguirre said:
“The first in-person TPDS meeting in Frankfurt was truly exceptional. It was an absolute honour to meet the group of professionals who are spearheading this project, which holds immense potential for both European and South American football.”
Eintracht Frankfurt’s Head of Supporter Relations & SLO, Marc Francis added:
“We had three incredibly productive days, combining the different perspectives and the individual expertise and experience of the participants. This has been enormously important and necessary as a first step in further developing and establishing generally applicable professional standards and norms for SLOs throughout Europe and furthering the importance of the role the SLO should occupy in football.”
Mr Aurélien Favre – EOSE Executive Director – Click here