“The SUPPORTERS UNITED (KIBICE RAZEM) program is the most important and the longest-running project of cooperation between state bodies and the community of fans in Poland. The program is a partnership program and involves both supporters' associations, sports clubs and associations as well as local governments (...) The strategic goal of the SUPPORTERS UNITED program is to improve the organization and safety of sports events and to support the created structures of dialogue and cooperation with fans. "
The above program assumptions indicate a progressive qualitative shift in the perception of organized fan groups in Poland. Recognizing the dialogue with fans as a necessary condition for improving the organization and safety of football matches means the implementation of the postulate formulated in the early 90s by Kevin Miles, one of the precursors of the politics of dialogue with fans in Great Britain, who stated:
"Fans are not a problem - fans are part of the solution "
SUPPORTERS UNITED - OUR GOALS
All persons and institutions supporting the SUPPORTERS UNITED Program assume that active football fans constitute a social group whose interests go far beyond passive participation in sports events.
Fans want to influence the policy of their club, are involved in the life of their local community, and show competitive attitudes towards organized groups of fans of other clubs. This activity and the will to compete, which are the source of a specific fan culture, also constitute a huge social potential. Full use of this potential is one of the messages of the cooperation projects with fans. This is also reflected in the detailed objectives of the SUPPORTERS UNITED program for 2019-2021 formulated by the Minister of Sport:
– activation of fan communities towards social activities and inclusion of fans into the local environment,
– democratization, modernization and professionalization of the structures of fan associations,
– shaping the attitudes of positive cheering and reducing the attitudes of violence and aggression in the fan community,
– opening stadiums to new social groups and inclusion of previously excluded groups (e.g. people with disabilities) into the fan environment,
– activation of disabled fans, changing the social image of fans and minimizing prejudices against this social group,
– changing the fan's image in public opinion.
Local SUPPORTERS UNITED centers are run by the operator - a non-governmental organization that is a beneficiary of the municipal subsidy, employs one or both employees, is a tenant of the premises used as the seat of the center and is responsible for the financial and formal settlement of its activities, using substantive national support. program coordinator. The operator of each fan center is selected through a competition announced by the city.
SUPPORTERS UNITED CENTER
Our centers are located in various places in Poland and are associated with many well-deserved clubs.
– Lechia Gdańsk
– Śląsk Wrocław
– Sandecja Nowy Sącz
– Miedź Legnica
– Arka Gdynia
– GKS Bełchatów
– GKS Tychy
– Górnik Zabrze
– Jagiellonia Białystok
– Korona Kielce
– Lech Poznań
– Motor Lublin
– Odra Opole
– Pogoń Szczecin
– Polonia Warszawa
– Ruch Chorzów
– Stal Mielec
– Stal Stalowa Wola
SUPPORTERS UNITED – FINANCING
Sources of financing for the SUPPORTERS UNITED 2019-2021 program:
– subsidy from the Ministry of Sport
– financial resources of the Polish Football Association
– funds of Local Government Units
In 2020, a total of PLN 2,869,500 was allocated for the operation and operation of 18 SUPPORTERS UNITED centers.
The contribution of the local government accounted for at least 50% of the total costs incurred. The total amount of local government subsidies in 2020 was PLN 1,459,500. The remaining costs of running the program were borne by the Ministry of Sport - last year it was PLN 1,200,000 - and the Polish Football Association, which in 2020 allocated PLN 210,000 for the implementation of tasks related to coordination. In 2021, the following amounts will be allocated for the implementation of the Program: PLN 1,300.00 - MS, PLN 1,431,000 - local governments, PLN 260.00 - PZPN.
SUPPORTERS UNITED PROGRAM CENTERS
In 2020, 18 SUPPORTERS UNITED centers operated in 13 voivodeships. Successive fan associations have expressed their will to join the Program.
In 2020, 36 local coordinators, two people coordinating the Program centrally, two people responsible for cooperation with the community of disabled fans and over 175 volunteers supporting the activities of local centers worked during the implementation of the SUPPORTERS UNITED Program.
SUPPORTERS UNITED AND HELP DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
During the coronavirus epidemic, the Ministry of Health advised Poles to stay at home. The exception to this rule is professional work, meeting basic life needs, participation in religious rituals and volunteering to fight the epidemic. Football fans were one of the most numerous groups of volunteers.
"SUPPORTERS UNITED centers have been operating in Poland for ten years" - says Dr. Dariusz Łapiński, National Coordinator for Cooperation with PZPN Supporters. When the epidemic broke out, it was impossible to continue the activities as planned. We had to give up organizing workshops, festivals or amateurs However, the stagnation did not last long. The fan centers almost immediately joined the fight against the coronavirus. Instead of meeting with footballers, they started organizing help for the elderly, fundraising for medical institutions or actions to provide food products for families under quarantine.
The grass-roots help for medical facilities, paramedics, seniors, people with disabilities and other people in need was counted in hundreds of thousands of zlotys. Soon after the announcement of the epidemiological status in the country, all premises intended for the operation of SUPPORTERS UNITED centers have become aid coordination points as well as a place of collection and distribution of material aid for health care institutions.
“SUPPORTERS UNITED did a great job to help the health service " - summarizes the program coordinator Dr. Dariusz Łapiński. Moreover, fans from all over the country exchanged information on the availability of personal protective equipment, the production capacity of local companies, terms of delivery of protective masks and their prices. Something resembling a nationwide exchange of the most needed products in the era of epidemics has been created - he adds.
The scope of activities and the form that the coordinators of the SUPPORTERS UNITED Program undertook in the fight against the pandemic "were respected. The physical and mental burden was much greater than under normal working conditions, and yet everyone felt the obligation and satisfaction with the role they played. all institutions and people in need of help deserve the highest praise.
SUPPORTERS UNITED IN THE MEDIA
718 information in the media in 2020 about the activities of our centers
1,107 articles were published on the Polish-language website Fans Together.
In 2020, the Fans Together profile on Facebook was followed by 65,000 people.
COOPERATION AND FUND-RAISING FOR ACTIONS
278 organizations cooperating with the centers
Cooperation with other entities (including non-governmental organizations) is an important aspect of the activities of SUPPORTERS UNITED centers
In 2020, there was an almost 48% increase in cooperation agreements concluded with SUPPORTERS UNITED centers compared to the previous year.
37 applications for internal funding
Obtaining funds from grants, as well as participation in municipal participatory budgets, shape the coordinators of centers as local social leaders. At the end of 2020, the SUPPORTERS UNITED centers submitted 37 applications for external funding.
Support for activities by sponsors
In addition to actively raising funds from public funds, SUPPORTERS UNITED centers establish cooperation with local business. At the end of 2020, 91 such partnerships were recorded. This is 25 more than in 2019.
ORGANIZATION OF SPORTS AND HISTORICAL EVENTS
In 2020, the number of organized sports events, despite significant restrictions, fell by only 13.75%. Coordinators of centers carried out 69 such events
Commemorating anniversaries related to the history of the club is another aspect of the activities of fans who are also willing to join the celebrations of the local and national world. In 2020, the SUPPORTERS UNITED centers organized 55 events of this nature, 3 less than in 2019.
The organization of joint trips to sports events, also for people with disabilities, is the basic foundation that unites the group and allows for the creation of new relationships. In 2020, access to participation in sports events was severely limited. Despite this, the SUPPORTERS UNITED coordinators conducted 166 such exits per year.
Involvement of volunteers in the work of local centers is not only real help for coordinators, but also building a responsible and proactive community.
In 2020, 220 volunteers cooperated with the SUPPORTERS UNITED centers. There has been a 25% increase compared to the previous year.
The development of the broadly understood competences of the beneficiaries of the SUPPORTERS UNITED Program is one of the tasks assigned to the centers. It is carried out as part of workshops
In 2020, 280 thematic workshops for fans were organized. Some of them, due to the limitations related to the epidemiological situation in Poland, were online.
2020 was one of the most difficult years in the history of the SUPPORTERS UNITED Program, mainly due to the difficulty in planning initiatives undertaken by coordinators. The fact that, despite the difficulties encountered, the program objectives have been achieved is all the more pleasing. The work performed by the coordinators is appreciated by the media, local governments and other partner institutions. The aid for the health service offered by fans in the first phase of the pandemic was widely echoed. The media coverage of the activities of fans allows for building greater social trust and arousing the interest of various entities starting cooperation with the SUPPORTERS UNITED centers.
7TH TOURNAMENT FOOTBALL SUPPORTERS UNITED
On August 25 and 26, 2020 in Wawrzkowizna near Bełchatów, on the pitches of OSIR Wawrzkowiźna, the 7th SUPPORTERS UNITED Tournament took place. The organizers of the tournament were the Ministry of Sport, the Polish Football Association and the Youth Sports Center in Bełchatów.
In this, for many reasons, a special year, despite the uncertain epidemic situation in Poland, all SUPPORTERS UNITED reported willingness to participate, and it was not so obvious, because in May there was a real chance that the tournament, due to the restrictions in 2020, would not will take effect. Ultimately, only the team representing the Stal Stalowa Wola fan center did not join the tournament. The missing team in the field is completed by the group of last year's participants representing KR Arka Gdynia, who came this year to cheer on their younger colleagues, and the fact that the Pomeranian team took a place on the podium proves how they cheered them on.
This year's 7th edition of the tournament maintained the formula of a two-day general fitness and football competition developed last year. On the first day, each of the 18 teams representing the SUPPORTERS UNITED centers had to compete in 9 competitions, including: archery, obstacle course, running, juggling football, team long jump and blind track. On the first day of the competition, it was possible to get a total of 162 points.
The next day, the players played a total of 27 football matches conducted by professional referees, which were held simultaneously on two perfectly prepared pitches. That day, the weather was particularly good, and the teams waiting for their matches were resting and concentrating on music and enjoying the sun.
The tournament attracted the attention of the media, local reporters and groups of fans interested in the football struggles appeared. The winner of the tournament was the team SUPPORTERS UNITED Arka Gdynia, scoring 166 points, second place went to KR Lech Poznań with 163 points, the podium was completed by the team from the Warsaw center with 162 points. The competition was at an even level, but the main goal of the competition was good fun and nice time for the youngest, for some children it was the only trip in 2020.