Djurgården’s opening match of the 2014 Allsvenska season, in the southern city of Helsingborg, was abandoned after a fan died from injuries sustained in an assault. In the months following this incident Filip Lundberg, Djurgården’s lead for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), invited Dr Clifford Stott, one of Europe’s leading academic experts on crowds, to discuss the problem of violence in football and to take part in an interview for the club’s television channel. Their discussion highlighted the importance of creating partnerships and research if the problems confronting Swedish football were going to be understood and addressed.
Following the interview ENABLE was conceptualised and initiated. We next drew in Jonas Havelund from the University of Southern Denmark, who had been involved in earlier collaborations in developing research-based approaches to policing football in Denmark. To support the project we utilised funds from the ESRC Celebrating Impact prize awarded to Clifford Stott in 2014 along with funds invested in the project from Djurgarden and the University of Southern Denmark.
Our approach draws upon social identity based theoretical models of crowd psychology and internationally recognised approaches to public order policing and crowd security. Our goal during phase one has been to generate partnerships, conduct research and secure further financial support in order to make the project sustainable over the longer term. We formally launched ENABLE in late 2014 with an observation of the fixture between Gothenburg and Djurgården on the 29th September. The observation included various stakeholders including academics, police officers, fans organisations and club security officials from Sweden, Denmark and the UK. In March 2015 ENABLE brought together a number of stakeholders to discuss the challenges ahead in the forthcoming season at our first national conference held at the Tele2 Arena. We then took part in further multi-stakeholder observations at a series of fixtures both in Sweden and the UK throughout 2015 and published our first interim report.
Given the growing support and positive outcomes from our research during the summer of 2015 we attracted our first round of external funding, from the County Administrative Board of Stockholm. In late 2015 we applied to Gålöstiftelsen for substantial funding to allow for phase two developments and in September 2015 ENABLE was awarded a grant of 8.0 million SEK to fund activity across the next four years. This grant was also supported by a further grant from the County Administrative Board of Stockholm. Phase two of ENABLE revolves around a series of inter-related work programmes and runs from January 2016.