Respect Inclusion by disabled Polish fans

An event at a top level Polish league match has shown how disabled fans can be fully involved in a football occasion.

The work being undertaken to enable disabled football fans to attend and share in the atmosphere of matches will be evident at UEFA EURO 2012 due to the Respect Inclusion initiative and the associated Football with No Limits project implemented by FARE partner organisation Centre for Access to Football in Europe (CAFE).

CAFE is a Europe-wide charity established to achieve equal access to football. CAFE seeks to improve the lives of disabled people by promoting inclusivity and equality and by enabling more disabled supporters to enjoy a match as a problem-free experience.

One significant event in the EURO co-host country Poland has already demonstrated how disabled fans are being fully involved in the joy of a football occasion – and how opposition supporters can show respect for each other.

Mutual respect
About 230 disabled fans were among the 43,000 crowd for a recent Polish league match between WKS Śląsk Wroclaw and Wisła Kraków at the Municipal Stadium Wroclaw, one of the eight stadiums that will host EURO 2012. The new Wroclaw stadium, officially opened in September, has 104 seats for wheelchair users and their companions as well as 80 parking places on the same ground level, accessible toilets and special catering places for disabled supporters.

The Śląsk-Wisła match, resulting in a 1-0 win for the visiting team from Krakow including a group of Wisła followers among the disabled supporters.

"We had guests from Krakow, including 30 disabled Wisła fans," said Paweł Parus, general director of the Polish Disabled Supporters Association (Klub Kibicow Niepelnosprawnych). "This included deaf people, wheelchair users and also people with learning disabilities. We had a fantastic time together – enjoyed dinner, saw the match, then had a party and networking event."

"We hope this story will inspire other disabled supporters to set up their associations, or further develop and grow existing ones, to promote the message 'Total Football – Total Access' all over Europe," said CAFE of the event.

Assessing accessibility for EURO 2012 venues
Within the Respect Inclusion initiative, volunteers will also visit places that will be frequently visited by supporters during the finals to check their accessibility from the perspective of disabled people, including those who are wheelchair users or have limited mobility, are hard of hearing and deaf, partially sighted and blind, and have learning disabilities.

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