testThe Unión de Peñas Sportinguistas (UNIPES) is the local fans / members organisation ofSporting Gijón, hosting our FSE Summer Network Meeting 2018.

A good reason to introduce UNIPES to our membership.

Adrián Nuñez Corte is UNIPES´ Vice President and we are happy that he found the time to answer our questions, despite all the preparations for the meeting from 19 to 22 July 2018.

Adrián, please introduce yourself and UNIPES.
UNIPES is one of the two coordinations of peñas (supporters clubs) in Gijón. It was founded in 2011 by nine peñas that regularly collaborated in trips and joint activities.All penas shared the concern of the lack of relevance of fans for the club despite having one of the most solid fanbases in Spain. At this moment we have 45 member groups, involving about 1600 fans, including several individual supporters.
I have been working in UNIPES since the beginning, first as an individual helping in ICT related tasks, and since 2015 as a member in the committee in representation of the fan club I founded with other mates when I moved to Madrid for work.

What are the main objectives of UNIPES?
We spend most of the time supporting our members in their trips to away games. We are handeling ticket requests and arecollecting data for security reasons (fan IDs, banners, coaches, etc.). As you can guess, there are many obstacles this due to the procedures of the club, regulations of the Spanish league or Spanish laws. Solving these issues is our priority objective.
Also, it is very important for us to emphasize the community character of our football club and its fans and we try to keep our members as connected as possible. Furthermore we carry out at least one charity initiative by season together with our club’s foundation.

Please tell us about the reasons for applying as a host of the SNM 2018.
In addition to being sure that our city is a great place, we believe that hosting the SNM18 in Gijón offers opportunities at different levels:
Locally, it allows us to show our members the importance of networking with other fans groups, and learn new and more modern ways of working. This is also applicable to the whole of Spain, where the SNM18 can be a starting point to improve the union of the different associations and to collaborate common projects. And for the fans of the rest of Europe, which are suffering a lot of problems in Spain following their teams, it can be a good chance to understand WHY this happens and how to minimize the issues.

Adrian1
Talking about the meeting: How are the preparations going on?

We are working with FASFE and the FSE Office to finalise the list of speakers. Here in Gijon, the logistics are fully ready, we are just waiting for the confirmation to watch a friendly match at the home of UC Ceares.

The programme has a strong focus on Spain. Can you tell us roughly about the fans scene in Spain, about policing and the general situation for fans?
In my opinion, fans in Spain aren’t united enough yet. It’s very disappointing to read about or listen to fans celebrating when some rival supporters have policing problems or can’t get tickets for a game because of the pricing or away fans bans. We all must be aware that these inconveniences will sooner or later affect everyone and that we must work together to find practible solutions.
About policing, the resume is very simple: “No dialogue”. Fans in Spain are guilty in advance, live under the constant threat of major fines with few guarantees of a proper defense mechanism, and face a police accustomed to treating fans as public enemies.

We heard Gijón had a trip to Oviedo last season with travel conditions which were making the journey a hell of a trip. Could you tell us what happened?
It was the same situation as for the Oviedo fans travelling in Gijón. Both games were declared as "bubble matches". They forced us to travel by bus to the stadium, escorted all the time by the police, and not to get in touch with local fans at any time. We waited in the remote area two hours before the game and an hour after the final whistle. In total we spent 8 hours for a 30 km trip. Even fans who live in the other city, had to travel first to Gijon to get on the bus. Due to that demands, we refused to manage tickets for that game. Later, we were invited to the security coordination meeting for the game, in which we were informed on the operations, with no possibility for negotiation or counter proposals.

Did these experiences have an impact on the programme for the SNM?
Of course. We know that fans visiting Spain in European Club Competitions are also facing these problems. To work together on possible solutions, taking into account approaches from different countries, will be very useful to find solutions and proposals that could be taken into consideration.

What can participants expect from their trip to Gijón? Tell us about the city, etc.
One thing I'm sure about is that nobody will get bored in Gijon, especially in summer. As a touristic city, you can find entertainment options 24 hours. Participants will find a city with plenty of activities (two major concerts and an air exhibition are scheduled that weekend).

Apart from the SNM: what is not to be missed when we are coming to Gijón?
Nobody can leave Gijon without taking a bath on our beach, the place where our team started playing, and without visiting our stadium, which is the oldest in Spain.
And of course, taste our cider and local food, we are famous in Spain for not skimping on size! I’m sure everybody will enjoy it. Please, don't hesitate to ask me about anything you can be interested in, I'm looking forward to help you to enjoy my city.
See you in July!

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