The Fans' Embassies driven by Football Supporters Europe (FSE) look back at their most successful tournament in history: fan volunteers from 19 participating countries were in operation to guide travelling fans through all stages of EURO 2016.
In Paris, the Fans' Embassies meet for an evaluation of their work and set tracks for their upcoming challenge: the World Cup 2018 in Russia.
More than 80 participants from the EURO 2016 Fans' Embassies, UEFA, security bodies, authorities, the French government and their partners Concordia and the Daniel Nivel Foundation are attending the evaluation meeting at the House of Europe in the French capital. The organisers particularly welcome the participation of delegates from the Russian Football Association and the Local Organizing Committee of WC 2018 who want to learn from the experiences in France regarding requirements that can facilitate a peaceful and welcoming tournament in 2018. Their attendance shows the increasing value that Fans' Embassies as a methodology of fan hosting have for a successful course of a major football event.
In France, Fans' Embassies and related services for travelling supporters under the project RESPECT FAN CULTURE provided help and information on match days for supporters following their teams and reported a high demand from fans throughout the tournament. In total there were more than 180 volunteers and staff members running Fans' Embassies info points around every match at the tournament. In the last two days, fans representatives and EURO 2016 stakeholders have been evaluating the operations of the Fans' Embassies during the tournament and the outcomes of the RESPECT FAN CULTURE project. They reported about very contrasting fan experiences from one city to another, but also from one country to another, depending on how much the different Football Associations, local organisers and police put efforts into fan dialogue and involvement of fans into the EURO preparation and Fans Embassy work. The clear conclusion drawn from these reports identified the need for organisers and Football Associations to build stronger links with their respective Fans' Embassies and supporter groups in the future.
The FSE Fans Embassies operating in France also pointed out future challenges for supporters in Russia 2018 and especially around EURO 2020 when the tournament will be played across Europe for the first time. A final report will be published by the end of the year, based on the conclusions of this evaluation meeting, and the results of an extensive match reporting scheme conducted during the tournament. Furthermore, the conference will also feature a whole day of discussions on the legacy of the EURO 2016 for French fans and how the FSE work opened perspectives for fan dialogue beyond the tournament in the host country.
There were Fans' Embassies for the supporters of the following teams operating in France: Albania, Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, England, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine and Wales. The Fans' Embassy Division of Football Supporters Europe wants to thank every single person involved and also highlight the productive cooperation with and great support received from UEFA, the Daniel Nivel Foundation, the French partner organisation Concordia, most French Host Cities, as well as from various national football associations and governments from participating countries at this tournament.