Football supporters from 32 European countries will come together this weekend in Istanbul (Friday 13th-Sunday 15th July) for the fifth European Football Fans’ Congress. Supporters from Turkish giants such as Fenerbahce (ÜNIFEB), Galatasaray, and Besiktas have joined forces with Football Supporters Europe (FSE) to help organise the annual event.
The three day programme will feature workshops on topics such as ticket pricing and allocations, penalty scales, offensive behaviour, the future of ultra culture, and new developments on safe standing in Europe. On top of that there will be high-profile panel discussions on the increasingly important topics of match-fixing and the role of fans in the game. More than 400 people from 32 countries are registered for the sold-out event.
They are joined by delegates from a wide range of important institutions including UEFA, the EU, national governments and football associations. William Gaillard, senior advisor to UEFA president Michel Platini, will be in attendance along with Tony Higgins of the international players union FIFPro and Gianluca Monte from the European Commission.
Experts such as Declan Hill, an investigative journalist, Sylvia Schenk, a sports expert from Transparency International, and Andrew Walsh, the CEO of FC United of Manchester, will also contribute to the discussions.
On Sunday FSE will hold its Annual General Meeting and Turkish fans come together for their inaugural national fans meeting to speak about shared interests, problems, and how they can unite for a common cause. This will be followed by the first-ever panel discussion between football supporters and football governing bodies in Turkey. TFF general secretary Emre Alkin and representatives from the Istanbul police will also join the discussion.
The fifth European Fans’ Congress of FSE is this year supported by UEFA and the TFF, as well as by SPOR A.S. and the Municipality of Istanbul, as part of the European Capital of Sports 2012 Portfolio. They all recognise the positive commitment of the supporters involved as well as the independent nature of the event.
FSE Coordinator Daniela Wurbs said: “We are glad that we could take the event to Turkey and are very much looking forward to it. Likewise, we are more than happy that fans from the three biggest teams in Istanbul could be won over to start uniting fans all over Turkey - their positive commitment has been met with support from the institutions in Turkey as well.
“We hope that our European Football Fans’ Congress can serve as a kick-off event for a great national fans’ movement in Turkey. Supporters should be seen as the most powerful part of the solution, and not just as a problem.”
The Football Supporters’ Federation is an affiliated member of FSE - the democratic, continental, fans’ network. FSE's first ever conference was hosted by the FSF at Arsenal's Emirates Stadium in 2008. Since then the event has been held in Hamburg, Barcelona, and Copenhagen-Brondby.
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