The letter to UEFA
We have as promised send a letter to UEFA, in which we want to draw attention to the action points. The letter was written in consultation with FSI. We will be back as soon as we get a response from UEFA. A copy of the letter can be read here:
We're sending you this letter both for your information and further consideration as about a month ago (September 13th & 14th 2008) a large European fan-protest named Eurostand 2008 took place.
We hope that this protest has drawn the attention of you and other UEFA representative(s), as football fans, fans groups of about 100 professional football clubs in 21 European countries have chosen to get involved in this campaign which was also supported by national fans organizations in several European countries and the FSI (Football Supporters International) network. The response received accordingly clearly manifests the joint interest and the relevance of the campaigning issues of Eurostand08 for football fans across Europe.
The protest took place for the first time in 1998, and was expanded with a European call for action this year. Eurostand 2008 was focused on 5 main issues many football fans across Europe and beyond share and are deeply concerned about. These issues are:
Reintroduction and Preservation of Standing Areas at major football grounds
Latest poll results in many European countries show that there is a vast majority of football fans in Europe which prefers to stand while watching a game. Reality and scientific figures in several countries with both standing and seated areas in place even support the conclusion that standing areas, if constructed according to modern standards, are as safe as any seated area. Furthermore, standing areas have always been a vital element of social inclusion in football as spectator sport (due to significantly cheaper ticket prices in these areas) and the core of the atmosphere at every ground.
Football countries with mostly all-seater stadia in their professional leagues show the downside of the contrary policy: massively increased ticket prices leading to the continuing social exclusion of especially the younger and less well-off football supporters in society, to a rapidly aging fanbase and a decreasing atmosphere at the grounds.
Accordingly, every football arena should contain an area designated for standing spectators. This can either be a standing area with no seats or a convert able area with seats but which can also be used for standing. Like it is the case in other major spectator sports, it should be optional for any fan to sit or stand during a game also in football.
Timing of match days and kick-off times
Millions of dedicated fans travel long distances and are willing to spend a fortune to follow their team. However, in reality games are moved at the last minute to suit TV schedules causing all sorts of massive problems, first and foremost, for these travelling fans. At the same time, because of their dedication, they constitute the core of every fanbase and should be of particular value to their clubs and the football governing bodies. Within any national tournament, match days and kick-off times should therefore be fixed well in advance, ideally at the beginning of each season to allow the supporters to make appropriate and financially affordable arrangements, also and again, as a matter of social inclusion. Only in exceptional circumstances, matches should be rescheduled but also no later than one month before the game for national competitions, and three months for international fixtures.
Inclusive Ticket Pricing
Ticket prices should be kept at a level allowing all football fans to watch their team's games. Prices both on European and national level in football are steadily increasing disproportionately to inflation rates, excluding more and more people in society from watching the game. Amongst others, we all know that this is also due to both the ongoing commercialisation of the game and the introductions of all-seater stadia as two major factors of this development.
Prioritize sporting objectives and tradition above financial objectives
In accordance with opinions earlier expressed by several high ranking UEFA members, irresponsible management and pure business orientation is the destroying factor in the game we all hold dear. We are fans of football clubs run with pride and in respect of traditions, not of corporations with changing owners, names and logos just as the economic wind blows. Football is a cultural asset and should therefore by all means preserve and prioritize sporting and ethical values above economic interests.
European football must not change into football systems, like for example the National Football League (NFL) in the United States where clubs can be bought and moved to other cities in order to reap financial benefits. However, developments like this can already be observed in football in countries like England we should do our outmost to prevent this "disease" from spreading across our continent. Culture, history and traditions are some of the most important values distinguishing football from any other economic business.
Removal of restrictions for goal celebration
Joy and passion are two essential elements of the game which make it attractive to millions of people all over the world. At the same time, however, the increasing gulf between fans and players has already leaded to a number of problems in the past. As the existence of a connection between players and the supporters is an important factor for dedication and passion on the side of the fans, the game should by all means be conducted in a way that players are given the time and permission to show joy after scoring a goal. This includes, for instance, that it should once again be allowed for players to take off and toss their shirts after scoring a goal. The implementing of restrictions like this further contribute to making the game less exiting, less enjoyable, less accessible and increasingly rigid.
Apart from the support from the grassroots level, this initiative has also gained support from the national fans' organizations like the Football Supporters Federation in the UK, the German associations BAFF and Pro Fans, and the Football Supporters International network.
The activities carried out on behalf of Eurostand as well as the campaign itself have enjoyed a decent press coverage in several European countries, for instance, in England, Germany, Norway and the Ukraine
We are aware of the fact that UEFA's vision and the promoted philosophy share many of the facts and beliefs mentioned above. With this letter and the Eurostand 08 campaign we'd like to show our support for all the shared issues but also make you aware of other relevant issues which are crucial to those, that should be considered one of the major stakeholder groups in football that have a major impact on the attractiveness of and, of course, the success of the game as a whole: the supporters.
However, there is not only a vision but also reality and, of course, the main purpose of Eurostand08 was to trigger and show the interest and need for real changes demanded by a broad range of grassroots fans of the game across Europe and beyond.
Against this background, we would like to urge UEFA with all respect due to reconsider its policies and tackle these issues as soon as possible by making use of its powerful tools available, like the general licensing system and regulations around its European competitions. We think this is important not only because we're football-lovers and think that we deserve it but also because we strongly believe that it would contribute to the future health of the game, also in view of the fact that UEFA and the sport itself benefit from and live through the commitment of passionate football supporters like us.
Further information on the initiative as well as a list of supporting groups and pictures of the activities taken place is available on our homepage: eurostand08.com
If you've got further questions, we'd be more than happy to answer them. Our contact details can be found in the letter head above.
Apart from that, we'd be grateful if you could let us know your thoughts, ideas and/or upcoming actions on the issues mentioned as soon as possible - this also in view of the fact, that we've informed all partners of the Eurostand campaign of this letter to you as we think that substantial solutions in our football can only be achieved in a dialogue with all parties concerned.
We hope that you support this approach and are looking forward to receiving your reply!
Eurostand 2008 - Against Modern Football