For 20 years, the Fan Coaching association has been carrying out initiatives against violence in sport. This Belgian non-profit organisation has now been added to the auspicious list of winners of the Supporters’ Prize, which each year recognises a supporters’ group that has made a special contribution to restoring a positive atmosphere around our football stadia!
Created in 2005 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Heysel Tragedy, the European Football Supporters Award is very proud to publicize its seventh edition this year. With the help and support of UEFA and its President, Mr Michel Platini, the aim of our award is to change mentalities in and around all football stadiums by promoting a friendly atmosphere. Each year, we grant an award to the most deserving football club or association that has demonstrated exemplary action by trying to instil a positive spirit around any football game – anywhere in Europe.
The Jury – composed of distinguished representatives from the European Commission, the Council of Europe, ESM i.e. European Sports Magazines, the City of Brussels and the Association “Sport and Citizenship” and EFSA’s representants has selected the Belgian association « Fan Coaching ».
For years, courtesy of a partnership between the city council, the University and Standard Liege, and with the support of the Belgian Federal Public Service Home Affairs, Fan Coaching has been conducting numerous social and educational actions aimed at preventing violence among supporters. Moreover, its expertise is also recognised by national and international institutions (such as the Council of Europe or the European Union).
On announcement of the award, Manuel COMERON, a spokesman for FAN COACHING, declared: on behalf of the Fan Coaching association, I woud like to thank the organisers of the EFSA for seeing fit to reward our association at this 2011 edition. This prestigious prize underlines the quality of the work put in by those on the ground and the role of the institutions who support our activities, along with the importance of social and educational prevention at local and international level”.
EFSA’s initiator and spokesman, Philippe Housiaux, said that the EFSA was “particularly pleased with the final outcome regarding this exceptional choice confirming once more the importance of fair-play in and around football stadiums. This partnership between three bodies (university, public body and club) constitutes a very fine example of a successful collaboration that is contributing positively to ‘the beautiful game’. »
“Fan Coaching” will receive a prize of 6,000 euros in cash and a trophy that will be presented on their favourite team’s pitch.
In order to reduce the risk of incidents through mediation work, the Fan Coaching team accompanies Standard Liege supporters to all matches in Belgium and in Europe. Away from the matches, sporting and cultural activities are also organised in order to stimulate the positive potential of the fans, who benefit from a permanent social club called the Fan-Home. From the start, the action on the ground has been guided by scientific research conducted at the University of Liege.
Within the framework of the Belgium’s “Open Stadium” programme, a community action (“Foot in the Community”) has also been developed. Initiated in cooperation with Standard Liege and the city council, it has permitted the creation of an extracurricular support centre at the stadium for local children, including cultural activities such as a theatre workshop for young fans, plus the development of a project, “Foot-Homeless”, which uses sport as a tool for the social integration of people in economic difficulty.
For over a decade, Fan Coaching has also been contributing to international exchanges via the European Forum for Urban Safety (EFSU), organising numerous seminars and conferences with the aim of developing practices for the prevention of violence in sport and pooling knowledge in the management of sporting events, while at the same time supporting the role of the local authorities within Europe.
European Football Supporters Award
The aim of the organizers is to celebrate football, and to do this, they know they need to focus on the true values of sport: respect for the opponent and his moral and physical integrity, respect for the referee, his role and his decisions, loyalty to one’s favourite team, the acceptance of defeat, and fair play in the broadest sense.
The award’s originality lies in the fact that it rewards the fans. After all, the “12th man” has become a key aspect of the modern game. Often given a bad press, they form an integral part of the entertainment and contribute to the beauty of the sport.