Date: 6th July 2015
While thousands of tourists from around Europe flocked to Belfast to visit the Tall Ships Festival, a smaller but no less purposeful group of Europeans also visited Northern Ireland’s capital.
Away from racing ships, this group of football fans were focused on the state of Football in Europe and continuing to strengthen the bonds built over the last few decades at these meetings between various football groups and associations.
Arranged by Football Supporters Europe, FSE, the Congress is a chance for progressive and likeminded fans, either singular or in groups, to meet and discuss their visions on the current state of football in their country and across the continent.
This happens through a variety of talks and workshops, with representatives from UEFA, Football Associations and authorities helping to give expert insight into topics which is shared with the fans attending.
The Congress changes location every edition, with this year’s taking place at various venues across Northern Ireland’s capital, including at current league champions Crusader F.C’s Seaview Stadium in the north of the city. Representatives from over 30 countries made the trip to Belfast this time around.
Speakers at this year’s Congress included Patrick Gasser, UEFA’s Football and Social Responsibility officer, the French Ministry of Interior Antoine Boutonnet and UEFA vice-president of the UEFA appeals body Michael Maessen.
There were also several contributors from various community owned clubs such as FC United of Manchester, Burgos CF from Spain, Crusaders FC and Newington FC from Northern Ireland and Croatia’s NK Zagreb 041.
These speakers in turn gave extensive talks on the benefits of Community Ownership, the future of FIFA in the wake of Sepp Blatter’s resignation and the state of affairs in France in the lead up to the 2016 European Championships.
It is safe to say that all of these topics greatly affect Scottish football, from the rise in community ownership at clubs such as Hearts, Motherwell and Hibernian to Scotland’s relationship with FIFA and the potential progression of the national team to France next year.
That is why it was vital that Scottish representatives were there to gain as much insight and knowledge into these topics, which is exactly why the SFSA ensured it was there to be involved.
Scottish fans deserve to be represented at all levels, and bar the world the European level is about as high a level as we can reach. We will be bringing you the best of the stories and information which we witnessed and listened to over the course of the Congress.
This is with the aim of giving you the information which might help you in the future. Whether you wish to explore the possibility of community ownership at your club, whether you want to influence Scotland’s relationship with FIFA or whether you want to plan your trip to France next year.
It is vital that Scottish fans are well represented at all Football Supporter Europe events. FSE is an independent and democratic network of grassroots football supporters, active fan groups and national fan’s organisations.
This is exactly why we will aim to work with FSE in the future, because we too are independent, democratic, and working for positive change in football in our country, as well as across Europe.
We also share the same key value and belief. That no-one understands football better, and is therefore best placed to affect change in the game, than the fans that support, attend and fund the sport.
The more likeminded organisations and fan groups which we work with and collaborate with the better chance we have of successfully making our voices heard to those in charge, both nationally and internationally.
That is why we will continue to attend as many national and international fan meetings as possible, both here in Scotland and in other countries. Together we can and will change the future of football for the better.
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