Football stakeholders and governance: FREE Project policy brief no. 2

2015-11-27T09:16:25Z (GMT) by Borja Garcia-Garcia Joanna Welford
As football touches a large part of the European population, it is not surprising that in recent years EU policy-makers have become interested in the governance structures of this game. There is a general consensus that the transformation of European football’s governance is underpinned by a constant tension between the most commercialised and professionalised part of football (whose target is to maximise economic profits) and a more socio-cultural view stressing the social values of football. For football fans, the evolution of the game creates a complicated scenario. On the one hand there are increasing calls by the European Union institutions to engage supporters in the governance of the game. On the other, the commercialisation of football might be endangering some of the values of football most cherished by supporters. What impact has this shift in European football had on the very diverse body of supporters in Europe? The supporters’ movement is an important part of Europe’s civil society, and it has the potential to develop active citizenship and the social dimension of sport through fan involvement. Supporters are extremely diverse in Europe, mirroring the heterogeneity of fan cultures across the continent. Organisations such as Football Supporters Europe (FSE) or Supporters Direct Europe (SDE) have been praised for their work in favour of the supporters. They have earned with their work the status of partners in the development of EU sport policy. Moreover, a large number of supporter groups already work to improve the governance of the game at continental, national and local level in Europe. Against this background, this policy brief summarises the results from the football stakeholders and governance research stream of FREE. Two other policy briefs deal in more detail with two other aspects of the project’s research: the feminisation of football, and the historical, sociological and anthropological research streams.