UEFA EURO 2012 and fan embassies were at the forefront of discussions in Denmark as Football Supporters Europe staged the fourth annual European Football Fans' Congress.
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The fourth annual European Football Fans' Congress in Denmark has featured a contribution by UEFA and a look ahead to supporter-related activities at UEFA EURO 2012 in Poland and Ukraine.
Some 300 fans from over 30 countries gathered in Copenhagen and Brondby to discuss a variety of subjects at the congress which was organised by the Football Supporters Europe (FSE) network.
A busy agenda covered topics such as fans and the media, football and violence, fan hosting and preparations for UEFA EURO 2012. A UEFA EURO 2012 dedicated workshop was attended by police representatives, delegates from the tournament's eight host cities – Gdansk, Poznan, Warsaw and Wroclaw (Poland) and Donetsk, Kharkiv, Kyiv and Lviv (Ukraine) – and members of the two local organising committees.
The focal point for the EURO-centred talks were the fan embassies that will be set up in all the host cities, in accordance with the slogan 'Respect Fan Culture - Fan Embassies'. The aim of the embassies will be to promote a positive and peaceful fan culture, contributing to a festive atmosphere at next summer's championship.
Moreover, delegates addressed the status of the FSE Fan Embassies Go East project which UEFA is funding over a three-year period until 2012. The purpose of this programme is to nurture fan initiatives and schemes in Poland and Ukraine ahead of the EURO, as well as to promote fan embassy concepts at major events such as the congress in Denmark.
William Gaillard, adviser to the UEFA president, opened the congress by praising the work undertaken by FSE and other supporter bodies, and urging them to play a full role in dialogue on relevant matters.
"You are the main stakeholders of our sport," he said. "Many of the issues we are confronted with are tremendously meaningful for supporters." These include striking a balance between providing legitimate financial returns for clubs and affordable prices for supporters; isolating violent spectators from law-abiding supporters; and furthering the interests of disabled supporters.
"You are the best representatives of millions of football fans in all their diversity and fragmented interests," continued Mr Gaillard. "You should do your best at mirroring this diversity and at representing these interests."
The Hamburg-based Football Supporters Europe is an independent, representative and democratically organised European network of fans, representing individual football supporters, locally active groups and nationally active fans.