Football fans across Europe demand change to 'unsustainable' model

Spain's La Liga restarted behind closed doors last week

Supporters must be consulted over their return to stadiums but also football's current model which is "flawed, unfair and unsustainable", a collective of 27 national fan organisations across Europe said Wednesday.

The resumption of leagues behind closed doors following the coronavirus shutdown has demonstrated "fans are the lifeblood of the game", said Football Supporters Europe (FSE), a grass-roots network of fans across the continent.

"It is therefore more important now than ever for supporters to be included in discussions that will determine the immediate and long-term future of the game."

Among the statement's signatories were major supporters' groups from England, France, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands, who all urged "multi-stakeholder dialogue" on the game's long-term future.

"The coronavirus crisis has yet again shown that the current model of football is flawed, unfair, and unsustainable," it read.

"Football needs to change dramatically. Any reform process must include fan representatives, on local, national, and European level.

"Fans must be engaged and involved in decisions that relate to the wider future of the game, including the necessary overhaul of governance structures and financial regulations."

The statement also called for the safe return of spectators to be "accompanied by a meaningful consultation with fans' representatives at every level of the game on health safety protocols."

Broadcasters have attempted to compensate for the absence of supporters by adding crowd sounds and chants to hide the drab atmosphere, efforts described by FSE as a "rebuke to match-going fans".

"We have significant concerns regarding attempts by broadcasters to replace or imitate the unique atmosphere produced by fans."

"There can be no 'return to normal," it concluded. "Lasting change is needed to make the game sustainable from top to bottom, and fans stand ready to play a part in shaping that change."

Spain's La Liga restarted behind closed doors last week