2016 has been a landmark year for CAFE and our works. As the year draws to a close, we look back on some of our highlights and biggest news stories.

UEFA EURO 2016 – A Rendez-vous for All!

Much of our works in the early part of the year involved UEFA EURO 2016 – this summer’s showpiece event in France. CAFE delivered the UEFA EURO 2016 Respect Access for All project around the tournament, aimed to ensure that disabled fans could enjoy an accessible, inclusive and welcoming experience.

Ahead of the tournament, CAFE visited all host stadia and created a disabled fans guide. Including helpful travel and access information for each host city and stadium. CAFE also formed an access advisory group, which enabled UEFA, UEFA EURO 2016, host city representatives and local disability NGOs to ensure access and inclusion was discussed and considered in all aspects of the tournament. During the event, CAFE liaised with disabled fans attending each match to collect feedback and to help find issues to any issues encountered ahead of the next round.

In March, CAFE began to train 30 young media and journalism students to provide audio-descriptive commentary for partially sighted and blind fans. This training, in cooperation with La Federation des Aveugles de France, continued until UEFA EURO 2016 kicked off, where the trainees then provided the service at every match.

In legacy of UEFA EURO 2016, CAFE donated the equipment used to deliver audio-descriptive commentary to each host venue so that resident clubs could continue to provide the service for their fans. A number of these stadiums have already implemented the service, with others hoping to launch their audio-descriptive commentary services later this season. 

CAFE also ran a second project around UEFA EURO 2016, in partnership with two rehabilitation centres in Marseille. CAFE invited around 60 recently-disabled people to attend live matches in Marseille, using the unique power of football to help reintegrate them into society. Participants provided hugely positive feedback, with many keen to continue to attend live football matches as disabled fans. 

One project participant, Gregoire, said “If I have one memory from the rehabilitation centre that will remain with me, it is the memory of having attended the match. It develops a certain enthusiasm, it gives you the desire to get out”. 

Youcef, another project participant, had not thought about attending live matches since becoming disabled, but after the match said, “I witnessed a festival atmosphere and saw a beautiful match. I have discovered that sporting events are accessible for disabled people and am more confident in crowds”. 

Many disabled people took part in an inclusive and accessible UEFA EURO 2016, and disabled football fans in France will continue to enjoy an improved matchday experience for many years to come.

CAFE’s continued partnership with UEFA – Access for All

Since our creation in 2009, CAFE has enjoyed a hugely positive cooperation with our partners UEFA. CAFE is a CSR associate partner of UEFA, and each year advises on access around each of UEFA’s tournament Finals. In 2016, these Finals took place in Milan (UEFA Champions League), Basel (UEFA Europa League) and Trondheim (UEFA Super Cup). CAFE visited each stadium ahead of the matches and advised on improving access. This resulted in a greater number of disabled fans having the opportunity to enjoy an accessible and inclusive Final.

CAFE is also working with UEFA to implement the Disability Access Officer (DAO) role at clubs, venues and national football associations across Europe. In 2016, CAFE presented the role at a club licensing meeting held by the Croatian Football Federation (HNS), and supported similar workshops held in FYR Macedonia, Malta and Portugal. Next year, CAFE will continue to support the implementation of DAOs and promoting the important role they play in improving access and inclusion.

CAFE also presented on the Disability Access Officer role at March’s UEFA HatTrick social responsibility event. In cooperation with HNS, CAFE hosted a question and answer session with the assembled national football association representatives. This raised greater awareness of the DAO role and gave national football associations the opportunity to ask questions about how they can implement the role into their own licensing criteria.

CAFE also launched a joint handbook with Colour Blind Awareness at the event, including an interview with Iceland national team coach Lars Lagerback on his experiences as a colourblind coach. The handbook can be downloaded here.

CAFE Week of Action – Total Football Total Access

CAFE hosted its fifth consecutive Week of Action in 2016, to raise greater awareness of access and inclusion and to celebrate the role of disabled people in football.

After 4 years of activity in Poland and Ukraine, in legacy of UEFA EURO 2012, a number of other countries were keen to get involved and in 2015 a total of 14 countries celebrated Total Football Total Access.

Activities were held in Belgium, Croatia, Cyprus, England, France, FYR Macedonia, Germany, Northern Ireland, Poland, Portugal, Scotland, Ukraine and Wales, with the message of Total Football Total Access spreading beyond Europe to Brazil. 

The CAFE Week of Action 2016 summary report can be downloaded here.

Even more countries have expressed an interest to celebrate Total Football Total Access in 2017.

HAVE YOUR SAY – CAFE Survey 2016

Earlier this year, CAFE opened its 2016 disabled fans survey. The survey is the largest of its kind, and we are delighted to say that we have received responses from more than 1000 disabled fans, companions and advocates from over 30 countries. 

The survey data is currently being analysed and we plan to reveal the findings early next year. We would like to say a big thank you to everyone who took part. The survey results will highlight just how important access and inclusion is to so many people across the region and will help us to plan our future works.

Industry Partner of the Year

CAFE was delighted to be named as Industry Partner of the Year at the Stadium Business Awards in Madrid in June.  

The award was presented as part of Xperiology’s annual celebration of stadium design and operation, and was a great recognition of the importance of access and inclusion. CAFE was also named as the official charity of the Stadium Business Awards, with an auction taking place on the night to raise funds to support CAFE’s ongoing works.


CAFE was saddened to hear of the passing of two long-time friends this year – Xavier Daniel and Cyril Gallay. 

Xavier was the Head of Public Affairs & Host City Relations of EURO 2016 SAS, working on the delivery of UEFA EURO 2016 in France and liaising with the host venues in preparation for the tournament. Xavier also worked closely with CAFE on ensuring that disabled fans would enjoy a welcoming and inclusive experience. 

Cyril was the Infrastructure Manager at UEFA and a friend and supporter of CAFE and our works, as well being a disabled person in a senior role within European football. 

Both Xavier and Cyril played an important role in promoting a more inclusive game, and both will be remembered fondly.

Good luck Joyce!

We end our Year in Review by paying tribute to our Founder and former Managing Director Joyce Cook, who this year was appointed as the FIFA Chief Member Associations Officer.

When we talk about ‘champions’ of access and inclusion, Joyce’s commitment to the topic is unparalleled. Joyce founded CAFE in 2009 and has played a vital role in helping to make football accessible and welcoming for all.

Joyce has overseen some remarkable success stories, and her impact on the game will continue to be felt for a very long time to come. We wish her the very best of luck in Zurich.

We also said goodbye to our Chairman David Bernstein, as well as Directors Irina Bernstein, David Davies, Lord Richard Faulkner and Lord Richard Rosser this year. We thank them all for their invaluable contributions since joining the CAFE family.

Our new Managing Director, Joanna Deagle, was delighted to take over at an exciting time for CAFE and our works. 2017 is already looking to be a very interesting year, and we will continue to ensure disabled people can take their rightful places as spectators, players, volunteers, coaches, administrators, and as leaders and decision makers within football.

We are also happy to announce that Joanna, Tony Taylor, Kush Kanodia and David Moussy have been appointed to the CAFE Board of Directors. 

We would like to thank all of our supporters and stakeholders for their support during 2016. Let’s make 2017 an even more memorable year. Total Football Total Access!

A version of this article is also available in Polish, German and French.

Published 22/12/2016