Euro 2004 Naar FSI NL
Fans Embassies & Fans Embassy Workers
Euro 2004 ….. with the accent on festival
Euro 2004, the world’s third largest event, will have a major impact on the image of football, as well as the image of Portugal. It is therefore important that the organization of Euro 2004 should focus on projecting a positive image. How the event is experienced by the thousands of visiting supporters and the local people, will determine that image to a large extent.
For Euro 2004 to be regarded as a football festival, the event must be projected as a festival in all its aspects. It is the task of the organizers to promote and stimulate it as a great football festival, to be jointly celebrated by fans from all countries. If the organizers concentrate on achieving this in every detail, the isolated instances when the concept has to be directed towards maintaining order and safety will be the exception to the rule, rather than being the norm for the entire event.
In the interests of creating the right conditions under which Euro 2004 can develop into a football festival, it is vital that the provision of services and information for visiting supporters should receive top priority, and that the local population should also be taken into account. This concept describes the elements which should guarantee that visiting supporters will be properly hosted and explains the significance and functions of fans embassies and fans embassy workers, followed by a description of how activities concerned with hosting the supporters can be coordinated via a coordination centre. The last item is a list of measures needed to ensure that fans receive the best possible support.
It should be emphasized that this is not intended as a blue-print for working with fans embassy workers, but rather as a number of organizational and operational concepts which will enable fans embassy workers to carry out their function. Naturally, the specific local organizational setting is mandatory. It is therefore obvious that the practical working methods of fans embassy workers will be adapted to suit local conditions. Fans embassy workers will, of course, have to deal with a number of current (national and local) initiatives concerning security, the provision of services, events and logistics. Their working methods should be properly adapted and carried out accordingly. The fact that each tournament town has a different approach, must be regarded as necessary to the town’s organization, and should be seen as a challenge by the fans embassy workers. This diversity must be taken into account when evaluating the process and effect of working with fans embassies and employing fans embassy workers. Drawing comparisons between the different local measures is an absolute necessity, and will result in valuable information about their efficacy and added value. Moreover, the diversity of local adaptations does not detract from the clearly recognizable concept of fans embassies and fans embassy workers, as far as designation, function profile, recognition, concept and structure are concerned.
What is shown to the world: a festival of football and friendship between supporters or a battleground for hooligans?
In June 2004 more then 1.5 million football fans will come to Portugal to be part of the Euro 2004 football championships event. And with the supporters and the football players hundreds of journalist and TV crews from all over the world will be there to cover this unique football experience. Of course Portugal and the Euro 2004 organization will do their best to show the world the beauty of Portugal, it’s culture, it’s hospitality, the enthusiasm of the Portuguese people for football and the friendly atmosphere in which thousands of fans celebrate their passion for football. But it is good to keep in mind that in the 22 days of Euro 2004 there are less then 47 hours of football and 481 hours in which no matches are played. And all this time the many journalists and TV reporters are looking for news items, pictures of supporters, football related events or whatever they can find to fill the hunger of the millions throughout the world that want to taste a little bit of the Euro 2004 atmosphere. Here lies a tremendous task to keep the focus of the press on Euro 2004 as an event of friendship through football instead of a narrowed focus on incidents and misbehaving supporters. This can only be achieved if there is enough positive news. The press will seek the visiting supporters because they bring over the football atmosphere, so give them activities for and with football supporters that show that supporters can party in good harmony; give the press representatives of supporters groups who have a positive story to tell or if necessary can explain that an incident was no more than just a sad brief moment in a further friendly and beautiful football day; give the press a tournament that is not only well organized inside the stadiums and around the football players, but also is an example of good and well organized hospitality with as result more than 1.5 million happy and friendly football supporters.
Hospitality through Fans Embassies.
When in 1996 the European Championships were to be held in England, the English authorities realised that the world would look at this event with more than just an interest in football. England was known as the home of hooliganism and many expected that Euro ’96 would be a hooligans battlefield. A long history of hooliganism had learned that hooligans seek the bigger crowd in which there is less change to be caught by the police. The best soil for football violence is an angry crowd. If the atmosphere is tense, supporters are treated unfriendly, if there is uncertainty among supporters about ticketing, accommodation or transport, if they can’t get the right information, if there is nothing to do then hanging around and drinking, then even a friendly crowd can get angry. And hooligans are the first to take advantage of this situation and start a battle with police or other supporters groups, backed up by the thousands angry supporters in the crowd. If you however keep the majority of the supporters happy by being a good and friendly host, hooligans get isolated and their chances to disturb the tournament are reduced. Therefore during Euro ’96 in England for the first time so called fans embassies were established. The philosophy of fans embassies is that fans help fans. Supporters, recruited from fans organizations, give information to visiting fans about where to eat or drink, which buses or trains to take, where you can find cheap accommodation, etc. They help them if a passport is lost, someone gets ill, or whatever misfortune a fan can have. They give service to fans when the hotelkeeper does not speak the language or when it’s unclear where to buy tickets for the next round. In short: they act as workers from an embassy. Fans embassies in England were run by the Football Supporters Association FSA. The FSA cooperated with organizations from Germany, Holland and Italy. The concept of fans embassies was also used by the English and German fan (-workers) organizations during the world cup ’98 in France. For Euro 2000 in the Netherlands and Belgium the concept was further completed: every venue had a fans embassy and from the participating countries teams of so called fan-coordinators were recruited to give information and service to their own supporters. Because of the success of this concept the European Council produced a handbook in which the concept is described and recommended as a concept for all international matches and tournaments. UEFA supports the establishing of fans embassies and has provided financial means for this cause.
Hosting Supporters by Fans Embassy Workers (FEW)
We are FEW, but can mean a lot to YOU.
During Euro 2004, it is estimated that 1.5 million football enthusiasts from 14 different countries will come to Portugal. Many of them will arrive the day before a match, or on the day of the match itself, and will leave soon after it is over. Many others will stay in Portugal longer, because they have tickets for several matches, or because they have linked a (short) vacation to their visit to Euro 2004.
A number of participating countries will send stewards to accompany the supporters from their country. The requirements the stewards have to comply with will be compiled by the organizers of Euro 2004 and passed on to the football associations. These stewards escort the supporters on their organized trips, from the point of departure in their own country, into the stadium, and back again to the point of return in their own country. The functions and tasks of these stewards inside the stadium will be determined by the organizers of Euro 2004, but are also tied to the existing Portuguese and UEFA qualification requirements, rules and regulations for stewards.
Supporters who have made their own arrangements to visit the tournament, and those who have chosen a prolonged visit to the host countries during the tournament, do not directly fall under the responsibility and attention of the Euro 2004 organizers. In the first instance, the relevant Ministry should bear this responsibility, and secondly, the tournament towns. The care of this latter category of supporters is much more extensive. It includes not only hosting the supporters, but mainly ensuring that they have a pleasant and undisturbed stay in the host countries. This category will also require the necessary services and entertainment. A large number of the resulting tasks will devolve on the tournament towns, however, these provisions must not stop at the town limits. A well structured network of information, services and support is urgently required.
The European Council has produced a handbook in which is strongly recommended the establishment of fans embassies and the use of embassy workers, coming from the fan scenes of each country, to help and inform supporters during international matches and tournaments. These providers of information, help and service of the visiting countries will be called “ fans embassy workers” (FEW).
The central aim of employing fans embassy workers is to give added value to good hospitality. The fans embassy workers will act as teams of mobile hosts. This means that they will accompany groups of supporters from their own country, who are not members of an organized trip.
- Their primary task is to supply the groups with the information, help and service they need on the spot, and to act as communication point and intermediaries.
- In addition, the fan coordinator’s job is to signal problems which could affect good hosting, and to report them to the coordination centre (CF) for fans embassies and fans embassy workers. On tournament days, the embassy workers will work in and from the fans embassies which are set up in each tournament town.
- The fans embassy workers will also play a part in guiding supporters, influencing processes and intervention. Depending on circumstances, groups of supporters have more confidence in workers nominated from their midst, especially their own countrymen. Communication with the group is then possible (resulting in feed-back from the group), and it is likely that they will let themselves be guided by embassy workers. When there is good communication between fans embassy workers and others involved, measures can be adapted to the movements of the group, and the group can be influenced to place itself less easily in a situation which could lead to disorder (influencing the process). Experienced fans embassy workers are also able to intervene when a disorderly situation threatens to arise.
- The fans embassy workers are no part of the security and stewarding system inside the stadiums. It is however important that they can continue their tasks also during the matches inside the stadium and therefore they must have accreditation for the matches of their teams.
Support of Fans embassy workers by experienced fan workers.
In some European countries there are organizations or projects with professional workers who are experienced in working with supporters and in hosting supporters during tournaments, using fans embassies. They have a network with the Football Association, local and national police, local and national authorities, youth, sports and municipal organizations and similar organizations in other countries. Within the framework of Euro 2004, these professional fan workers can play a supporting role, by “coaching and supporting” the fans embassy workers of the participating countries. These coaches of the embassy workers are called Pilots because they have to guide the fans embassy workers through the tournament.
A fans embassy worker should comply with the following profile:
· he is trusted by the supporters;
· he can communicate with and work within different groups of supporters;
· he is a reliable partner for other parties involved.
The fans embassy workers are recruited by the CF, and come preferably from fan organizations of the participating countries.
Potential fans embassy workers will be invited to undergo a 3 to 4-day training in Portugal in April 2004. A selection procedure will take place during this training, and those selected will be prepared for their tasks. From that time on, they will also be expected to cooperate in their own country by distributing advance information to the football fans (provided by each tournament town) about the towns they will be visiting during Euro 2004.
The Purpose of Fans Embassies
Fans embassies are an important part of the care devoted to football fans. These are centres in each tournament town where football fans can apply for information and help, or just meet other football fans.
The aim of the fans embassies is to carry out ambassadorial tasks, i.e. providing all manner of information and coping adequately with the questions and problems presented to them by visitors.
A fans embassy should be centrally situated in the tournament town and easy to reach. In a small number of exceptional circumstances, it may be desirable to separate groups of supporters from each other. In such cases, specially fitted buses can be used to function as mobile fans embassies for each of the two groups of supporters.
Inside the perimeters of the stadiums, embassy dependences, so called fans consulates, can be set up for those supporters who are already in the stadium area, which is the responsibility of the Euro 2004 organizers.
Staffing of Fans Embassies.
The fans embassies are staffed by a permanent local team: the “home team”, consisting of volunteers specially selected for their understanding of football supporters and their knowledge of their home town. The home team of the fans embassies are recruited and employed by the tournament town. They will receive training prior to the tournament.
From a certain period before the match, until some time afterwards, the home team will be complemented by the fans embassy workers (FEW) from the competing countries. The FEW can use the information material available, as well as the knowledge and direct lines which are open to the Home Team. FEW are to inform, help and advice supporters of their own country and are expected to act as intermediaries for their country’s fans who, for some reason, are experiencing problems. Around match days they must be in the Fans Embassy for fans who need advice or someone to talk to.
The fans consulates inside the perimeters of the stadium will be manned by the Home Team who are in close contact with the FEW from the participating countries, in case assistance from a FEW is needed. The mobile embassies employed when groups of supporters are separated, are manned by FEW from the participating countries.
Responsibilities of Fans Embassies
The tournament towns are primarily responsible for setting up and equipping the fans embassy in their town, for which they will receive support from the CF.
In the months prior to the tournament, in consultation with the tournament towns, the CF will draw up a script and a communication plan for each town. The tournament town’s input, as well as that of the people involved with fans embassies and escorting supporters, will be laid down in a protocol. During the tournament, the CF will synchronize, coordinate and guide the fans embassy workers and their deployment in the Fans Embassies.
Where possible there will be “fans-friendly’s” organized on or around match days: football matches between supporter teams of the countries that play a match in that specific town. These “fans-friendly’s” are to promote friendship between fans of different countries, cultures and colours. The “fans-friendly’s” will be organized by the embassy “home team” in cooperation with the fans embassy workers of the playing countries, the local authorities, local police and FARE (Football Against Racism Europe).