2015 has been another landmark year for CAFE, and one that will live long in the memory. We look back over some of our key successes and achievements.

Total Football Total Access 2015

Undoubtedly, the biggest event of our year was our second international Conference – Total Football Total Access – at the Stade de France in October. We welcomed around 200 delegates and a wide range of stakeholders to the event, which celebrated some of the great work taking place around Europe.

The two-day event provided an update on the work taking place around UEFA EURO 2016, information about the new Disability Access Officer role enshrined in UEFA Club Licensing and the Premier League’s pledge to meet Access for All standards by 2017. Additionally, specific presentations were given around improving the matchday experience of disabled fans, including fans with hidden disabilities such as dementia, autism and colour blind awareness.

Speaking after the Conference, CAFE Managing Director Joyce Cook said, “It is always a delight to bring so many people with one shared goal together. It was hugely satisfying to spread the message of #totalaccess and a pleasure to see many familiar faces as well as meet many more advocates for the first time. It is particularly pleasing that so many people came together and in one collective voice said that football must do more to be truly accessible. We must all now continue to work together to ensure all fans enjoy full inclusion”.

You can find a full summary of the Conference here.

UEFA EURO 2016 – Access For All

CAFE has continued its preparatory works around UEFA EURO 2016, to ensure that disabled fans are able to enjoy an inclusive and welcoming experience at the tournament. We have carried out stadium visits at all host venues, and are working with local disability NGOs and disabled fans groups on access information for travelling fans.

A number of these NGOs have joined our newly-founded access advisory group in France, and we are working together to improve access and awareness around the host cities.

We also have two Project Coordinators working in France, regularly meeting with disabled fans and working on the creation of a French national disabled supporters group.

UEFA EURO 2016 will be the largest ever European Championships and a Rendez-vous that is accessible and welcoming to all!

The Disability Access Officer (DAO) role

We were delighted in June when the UEFA Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play criteria added the Disability Access Officer criterion to the regulations. This will make a huge difference over the long term, and sends a very clear message of the need for better access for disabled people. We must again thank UEFA for their continued support for our topic and their commitment to making football truly accessible to all

If you have any questions or queries regarding the DAO role, please do contact us. We hope to publish more information including job descriptions in early 2016.

Total Football Total Access to Work

UEFA’s Captains of Change programme kicked off in 2015, with a number of projects aiming to create diversity pioneers and share best practices. CAFE Director Irina Bernstein joined the programme and delivered the Total Football Total Access to Work project, promoting the employability of disabled people within football.

Irina worked closely with the Football Federation of Ukraine (FFU), who appointed disabled interns Serhiy Moskalyuk in Kyiv and Vladyslav Kacheniuk in Dnipropetrovsk, as part of the project. Irina and Serhiy were joined by FFU Deputy Chief Executive Yurii Tytarenko at the CAFE Conference to discuss the project and how it has promoted diversity and inclusion in Ukraine. 

The UEFA Captains of Change presentation from the CAFE Conference can be viewed here. You can also find out more about the UEFA Captains of Change programme at http://www.uefa.org/social-responsibility/captains-of-change/index.html.

CAFE Week of Action

In 2015 we held our third annual Week of Action campaign in Poland and Ukraine. The Week of Action has been a very popular and well-received initiative, and we have big plans to extend the campaign across Europe in 2016.

Achievements from last year’s Week of Action included televised pre-match ceremonies celebrating good access across Ukrainian stadiums, and a great story from Poland where over 1000 disabled fans attended a single match in Wroclaw. This set the record for the most disabled fans at a match in Poland, and gives a great legacy of total access.

Empowering disabled fans

Another achievement from Poland was the launch of the FKN – the Polish national disabled supporters group. The group has been established in cooperation with a number of club-level disabled fans groups, and will represent all disabled fans across Poland.

The launch was announced as part of our celebrations around International Day of Disabled People 2015.

As mentioned earlier, work has been taking place regarding the launch of the French national disabled supporters group, and we hope to have more news about this in early 2016.

The empowerment of disabled fans is key to everything we do at CAFE – nothing about us without us!

Ongoing cooperation with UEFA

As in previous years, CAFE has worked closely with UEFA advising them on access around their tournament Finals. The 2015 Champions League and Europa League Finals in Berlin and Warsaw were well attended by disabled fans, and the Boris Paichadze Stadium in Tbilisi improved their accessible facilities ahead of hosting the UEFA Super Cup.

In addition, CAFE has worked with UEFA on a number of other projects throughout 2015. Trustee Irina Bernstein became one of UEFA’s first Captains of Change, and our Managing Director Joyce Cook has also taken part in UEFA’s Women in Football Leadership programme, supporting women across Europe in taking the next steps into influential positions within the game.

UEFA’s communications team also provided us with a day of expert training, and gave us plenty of ideas of ways to improve our communications strategy.

We would like to pay a special tribute to UEFA for all of their support once again during 2015.

2015 will certainly be remembered as a significant year in our history, but we have much to look forward to. Our works will intensify around UEFA EURO 2016 as we deliver the UEFA Access for All project, and we hope to bring you many more success stories from around Europe.

We would like to thank all of our supporters and stakeholders for their support during 2015. Let’s make 2016 an even more memorable year. Total Football Total Access!

A version of this article is also available in Russian.

Published 07/01/2016