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Steven Powell

Match: Bayern München v Arsenal, UEFA Champions League, Wednesday 15 February 2017

Publié: 20/2/2017

 

The best thing about my visit as an Arsenal wheelchair supporter was the view. Excellent and unobstructed even when people stood in front at the back of the lower tier. There was easy access to the refreshment facilities after purchasing an Arena Card (cash isn't accepted). There are however no dropped counters and it was impossible to access the condiments from my wheelchair. I had to ask for assistance.

 

Access to the disabled toilets was completely unsatisfactory. Germany has a key system to access disabled toilets similar to the RADAR key in the UK. I had thought of buying one before travelling but I don't visit Germany that often and 20€ seemed a bit steep for a key I would only use very occasionally. I naively assumed that stewards in the ground would have a key. I was wrong.

 

Neither of the stewards responsible for my wheelchair platform - which contained the six wheelchair spaces allocated to travellng Arsenal supporters - had a key nor knew that a key was necessary to access the disabled toilets. Communication was hampered by my extremely limited German language skills. It would appear obvious to me at least that visiting wheelchair supporters from another country (other than Austria and Switzrland where the same key operates) are unlikely to have the necessary key.

 

The stewards' response was enraging. They both just shrugged and turned their backs on me. My need was becoming pressing. I was on the verge of wetting myself. Fortunately for me a security guard had observed my plight. She had a key. She escorted me to the disabled toilet and admitted me, showing where the button to operate the automatic door was located to exit after I'd finished. I was very grateful for her kindness, but to be placed in such a humiliating situation is completely unacceptable.

 

The wheelchair spaces for visiting supporters are not with non-disabled and ambulant disabled away supporters, but in the home section of the ground. I felt nor observed no threat to safety from the home supporters but this is unsatisfactory in my opinion. Football is a tribal experience. I want and welcome mingling, friendship and banter between rival supporters before and after the game. During the match I want to be with my own tribe however.

 

Getting to the ground by public transport is easy for wheelchair users. The Munich U-bahn is step-free street to train at many stations including that for the ground.

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