The first tri-national Disability Access Officer (DAO) exchange meeting has been held in Manchester this week, hosted by Manchester City.

The Disability Access Officer role has been a UEFA Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play requirement since June 2015 (article 35bis), and CAFE has been commissioned to support the development of the position.

CAFE has facilitated the wider exchange of best practice examples and solutions between DAOs, by bringing DAOs together to meet and share ideas. Exchange meetings have been held in a number of countries already, and the DAO Network Group was established to further support DAOs in working together.

This week’s meeting in Manchester marks the first time that CAFE has held a tri-national exchange meeting, with DAOs from the UK, Germany and Russia coming together with other key stakeholders from within the game to share and develop ideas.

Hosts Manchester City presented some of the accessible facilities and services available at their stadiums to the group, with guest presentations from Colour Blind Awareness and the Russian Football Union, who spoke about the importance of working with disability NGOs.

A series of group discussions took place, looking at how DAOs can help their clubs to overcome attitudinal barriers faced by disabled fans, how to attract more disabled fans to the stadium and manage relationships with them, and the wider inclusion of differently disabled fans.

The meeting also included a visit across Manchester to Old Trafford – the home of Manchester United. The gathered delegates were able to see some of the iconic stadium’s accessible facilities first-hand, and find out more about the club’s works in improving the matchday experience of disabled supporters.

Unfortunately, stormy conditions across much of the UK meant that some DAOs who had planned to join the meeting were unable to attend. A planned visit to watch Manchester City vs West Ham United was also curtailed by the weather, as the match was postponed due to safety concerns.

Speaking after the event, CAFE DAO Project Manager Jochen Kemmer said, “DAO exchange meetings can be very insightful and participants often take away some fascinating ideas to implement at their own clubs and stadiums”.

“Although we share the same passion for the game, there can be vast differences in the experiences of disabled fans in different countries. We look forward to hosting more of these exchange meetings, and supporting DAOs across Europe in sharing solutions and best practice examples from their own experiences”, added Jochen.

CAFE would like to extend a huge thank you to Manchester City, for their very generous hospitality and support in hosting the meeting.

We would also like to thank the Premier League for their support, Manchester United for welcoming us to Old Trafford during the meeting, and all of our presenters and delegates for their insight and participation during the two days.

CAFE is continuing to support the wider development of the Disability Access Officer role, with more trainings, case studies and exchange meetings planned for the near future.

We will also be hosting our third meeting of the DAO Network Group in September 2020, and are currently looking to secure a host for the two-day meeting. If you would be interested in hosting this meeting or future meetings, please email [email protected].

To find out more about the role of a Disability Access Officer, please visit our DAO Portal.