In June 2015, the UEFA Executive Committee approved new Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play regulations, which included a provision requiring clubs to appoint a dedicated Disability Access Officer (DAO). CAFE was commissioned to implement the DAO role across UEFA's 55 member associations.

Since then, CAFE has appointed a dedicated DAO Project Manager, Jochen Kemmer, and worked with UEFA to publish a Disability Access Officer Handbook containing advice and guidance for DAOs in carrying out their duties.

As part of our works in this area, CAFE has already presented to 16 of the UEFA member associations, discussing the advantages of implementing the DAO criterion and working to ensure DAOs receive the best possible training and support.

To further support DAOs in their roles, CAFE has fostered a number of exchange meetings with DAOs across Europe. Using the unique opportunity of clubs being drawn against each other in UEFA competitions, CAFE has introduced DAOs to their counterparts to share best practice examples and ideas.

Earlier this year, CAFE facilitated these meetings at four different matches involving representatives from some of Europe's biggest clubs, including Barcelona, Chelsea and Borussia Dortmund.

Meetings have generally included a tour of accessible facilities and services available at the host club, as well as discussions on current activities and projects, work with external stakeholders and how DAOs have overcome challenges in their roles.

Other topics discussed have included potential stadium renovations and rebuilds, the impact of legislation in different countries and the importance of working with disabled fans.

Jochen said, "Disability Access Officers will face many of the same challenges and responsibilities, so exchange meetings are a great opportunity to share best practices and advice. Although the role is still relatively new in much of Europe, DAOs already have a number of key experiences they can share to promote wider access and inclusion for all".

Exchange meetings have also been warmly received by DAOs themselves, with one saying, "It was a good opportunity to meet a counterpart from outside the UK and understand how access works in their stadium and country. We should always be sharing best practice as we continue to keep the subject of disability access high on the agenda".

Another DAO commented, "Sharing experiences is a very useful part of our work. The advice of others will help us to make the matchday experience as welcoming as possible. Thank you to CAFE for arranging such a useful meeting".

Exchange meetings will resume during the upcoming UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League group stage matches, and interested DAOs are invited to contact us if they are interested in taking part.

Published 29/08/2018