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Football Supporters Europe (FSE) and the European Football for Development Network (EFDN) headed to Bilbao to La Liga side Athletic Club for the final pilot site visit of the Erasmus+ funded SAFER project during May. 

The occasion was the fifth pilot site visit to a football club since the project began last year. It was conducted during the club’s home fixture versus Sevilla. FSE and project partners have previously visited Benfica, Italian member-run club Atletico San Lorenzo, FC Midtjylland, and most recently Royale Union Saint-Gilloise. 

The purpose of the visit was to develop a greater understanding of Athletic Club’s current approach to spectator safety for female supporters. The learnings from the visit will feed into planning the football club’s future project activities.   

FSE and EDFN met with a broad variety of Athletic Club staff to discuss SAFER’s aims and understand how matchday operations and security are managed. It was also an opportunity to learn the club’s perspective on the issue of gender-based violence. The project delegates also had the opportunity to speak with two female supporters about SAFER to gather their feedback, ideas, and experiences on the subject matter. Following these discussions, the project delegates observed the body search procedure for supporters and the general matchday operations around entering Estadio de San Mamés for the match. 

FSE’s EU Projects Specialist, Mattia Angelini, said: “We had a very productive and interesting Pilot Site visit. Athletic has a very close relationship with its supporters and this is a very important aspect in ensuring safety and inclusion in the matchday and in the supporters’ environment. The SAFER project is a great learning opportunity for clubs and supporters alike. 

“It’s very important, for FSE and the SAFER project, to widen the scope of our activities. This visit means that we can learn more valuable insights about how different countries, and different clubs, handle issues related to gender discrimination and gender-based violence. Reaching out to clubs at different level also means that we can try to better understand what works in specific contexts.” 

This visit was the final pilot site visit to take place during the SAFER project. A key pillar of the next step of the project will be to start the development of a plan of activities that will be implemented next season at the clubs taking part in SAFER. 

FSE would like to thank Athletic Club for its cooperation and hospitality during the visit.  

View the SAFER project’s timeline here


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