As we bring the curtain down on another landmark year at CAFE, we look back at some of our highlights from the past twelve months.

Way back in January, we were delighted that our continued partnership with UEFA was confirmed following a review of UEFA’s social responsibility strategy.

This partnership will now extend to at least 2021, when UEFA will again confirm its social responsibility partners for the next three-year cycle

At the time of the announcement, CAFE Managing Director Joanna Deagle said, "We are delighted to continue our relationship with UEFA during this cycle. UEFA has consistently demonstrated a real commitment to a game that is accessible and welcoming for all, and we look forward to ensuring further progress in this area over the next four years".

Read more: UEFA confirms social responsibility partners for 2017-2021 cycle


In February, CAFE launched its expert Audio-descriptive Commentary Network and bespoke training programme.

Having identified the need for a robust training package and an accredited certification to ensure high standards, CAFE undertook the decision to establish the network comprising of a number of ADC trainers from across Europe.

Audio-descriptive Commentary is an invaluable matchday service for many partially sighted and blind fans, enabling them to enjoy live football alongside their fellow fans. At the launch, partially sighted fan Larissa Sayevich said, “ADC is vital, and the only way that we can truly feel part of the game like non-disabled fans. For me, ADC is the key that opens the door to the very heart of football”.

Read more: CAFE launches Audio-descriptive Commentary Network and Training Programme

The annual CAFE Week of Action was celebrated from 3-11 March. The initiative, which started back in 2013, aims to celebrate access and inclusion within football and the many different roles that disabled people can play within the world’s most popular game.

A record-breaking 25 countries celebrated Total Football #TotalAccess this year. Highlights including a half-time ceremony at FC Barcelona’s iconic Camp Nou, events with local learning disabled fans hosted by GNK Dinamo Zagreb and Celtic’s players warming up for a Scottish Cup match in CAFE Week of Action shirts.

No country embraced the CAFE Week of Action as much as Russia during 2018 though, with over 20 Russian clubs and the Russian Football Union all getting involved. We are hoping that 2019’s CAFE Week of Action, which will take place on 2-10 March, will break even more records and we invite you to join us in celebrating Total Football #TotalAccess – let us know what your plans are!

Read more: CAFE Week of Action 2018 summary report published

In April we published the findings from our Disabled Fans Survey – the largest we had compiled to date.

The survey was designed to gain a wider understanding of the experiences of disabled football fans across Europe, as well as finding out more about the numbers of disabled people attending live matches and some of the common barriers that they face.

Over 1000 people in 36 countries completed the survey, and 93% of respondents felt it was important for disabled people to have a choice of accessible seating across football stadiums. 90% of respondents also stated that it is important for disabled fans to be able to sit with their own supporters inside a stadium. However, more than one-in-six fans reported that they have been unable to do so when attending away matches. Some of the common barriers outlined by respondents included a lack of pre-match information, inaccessible public transport and difficulty in purchasing tickets for accessible seating areas.

Read more: CAFE launches Disabled Fans Survey summary report


This year, CAFE continued to support UEFA in ensuring its major Finals and tournaments were accessible, inclusive and welcoming for disabled fans.

Ahead of the UEFA Champions League Final, UEFA Women’s Champions League Final, UEFA Europa League Final and UEFA Super Cup, CAFE produced detailed access information guides for disabled fans attending each fixture.

CAFE works with UEFA in advance of each Final to improve accessible facilities and services at host stadia, and to provide audio-descriptive commentary for partially sighted and blind fans. For the first time, the UEFA Women’s Champions League Final in Kyiv had live audio-descriptive commentary available, again demonstrating UEFA’s continued commitment to a game that is inclusive and welcoming for all.

CAFE was also delighted to be invited to showcase our works at the UEFA fans festivals in both Kyiv and Lyon before each Final. Working with some of our fellow UEFA FSR partners, CAFE provided an audio-descriptive commentary demonstration and also gave fans the opportunity to try the service for themselves – both as a partially sighted or blind fan would but also as an audio-descriptive commentator. There was a great atmosphere in both fans festivals, and we found some natural audio-descriptive commentators who took a great interest in the demonstrations.

UEFA’s support for our works and commitment to ensuring accessible Finals and tournaments was reaffirmed in May, as UEFA confirmed that from 2019, all venues bidding to host UEFA’s showcase Finals and tournaments will now be required to implement Access for All standards. Joanna Deagle said, “We are delighted that access will now be an essential criteria for venues bidding to host tournaments and Finals. We hope this leads to a trickle-down effect where other clubs and stadiums begin to understand the many benefits that an accessible stadium brings, and proactively seek to meet and exceed the minimum requirements”.

Read more: CAFE working with UEFA to ensure Access for All at Finals and tournaments

Read more: CAFE introduces fans to audio-descriptive commentary at Kyiv and Lyon festivals

The 2018 FIFA World Cup kicked off in Russia in June, and CAFE was proud to co-author the official Spectator’s Accessibility Guide with FIFA and the Local Organizing Committee (LOC).

The Guide included information on how to reach each of the host stadiums, as well as information on the accessible facilities and services that will be available on each matchday.

As a long-time collaborator on accessibility issues for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, CAFE was proud to support the most accessible FIFA World Cup to date. Joanna Deagle said, “With a good number of disabled fans attending a FIFA tournament, CAFE is delighted with the progress made to improve access and inclusion at the 2018 FIFA World Cup. We are committed to building on these improvements and further supporting access and inclusion for disabled people at future tournaments and locally within Russia.”

Read more: Access for All at the 2018 FIFA World Cup

Shortly after the FIFA World Cup, we were on the move ourselves as the CAFE team left our Wembley offices to open a new office in central London.

The new CAFE Head Office, located in Farringdon, provides easier transport links right across the city, and a stunning setting for our ongoing works.

The office move led to the creation of the European Football Hub, which we share with our partners Fare. We see this as a hugely exciting opportunity to work together and share best practices, and we are settling in well to our new offices.

Read more: We are moving! CAFE opens new offices in central London

CAFE has continued to work on the development and implementation of the Disability Access Officer role across Europe this year, and created an online knowledge base for DAOs to support their works.

The CAFE DAO Portal is designed to collate important information for Disability Access Officers and about the DAO criterion, and provide the opportunity for DAOs to discuss access and inclusion with their peers. The portal also contains links to useful resources such as the UEFA and CAFE Disability Access Officer Handbook, CAFE helpsheets, documents and templates to support them in performing their duties.

CAFE DAO Project Manager Jochen Kemmer said, “The aim of the portal is to support Disability Access Officers as much as possible, by bringing large amounts of useful information together in one place. We hope that DAOs will find the portal to be a valuable and engaging resource, and we encourage DAOs to keep checking the portal for new information”.

Disability Access Officer training sessions have been provided in over 20 countries this year, and we look forward to continuing to support Disability Access Officers in their roles in 2019.

CAFE hosted its third International Conference – Total Football #TotalAccess – in Bilbao on 16-17 November. The Conference is the largest of its kind, bringing together key stakeholders from across the game to discuss all things access and inclusion.

Over 200 delegates attended the event, including disabled fans and their groups, clubs, leagues, national associations, disability and equality NGOs, stadium designers and many more. The Conference was also live-streamed on

In opening the Conference, the CAFE team premiered our latest fans film entitled “This is my Game”. The video celebrates some of the diverse roles that disabled people can play within the game, and celebrated those who are working hard to improve access and inclusion for all.

The Conference was attended by representatives from FIFA and UEFA, both of whom presented on their works and commitment to access and inclusion within the game. Further sessions included the empowerment of disabled football fans through disabled supporters groups, digital accessibility, implementing inclusive facilities and services at stadiums, the importance of collaboration and the employability of disabled people within the game.

There was also updates on many of CAFE’s activities, including the CAFE Week of Action, the CAFE Audio-descriptive Commentary Network, our works with Disability Access Officers and UEFA’s #EqualGame initiative.

The Conference also included an evening social event, which gave delegates the opportunity to network and get to know new people.

We have received some hugely positive feedback from the Conference, and are currently surveying delegates on what went well and what could be better for our future events. We hope to publish a comprehensive report with suggestions in the new year.

Read more: Third CAFE International Conference video published - 'This is my Game'

The Conference also featured an awards presentation, where we celebrated some of the people, clubs and national associations that had gone above and beyond to improve access and inclusion for disabled people.

The CAFE Access and Inclusion Champions Awards were presented in Bilbao, and we were delighted to be joined by Athletic Club legend Carlos Gurpegui and iconic Dutch midfielder Edgar Davids on stage.

CAFE presented four awards during the ceremony – the National Association Initiative Award to the Russian Football Union, the Collaboration Award to Celtic and the Celtic Disabled Supporters Association, the Club Initiative Award to GNK Dinamo Zagreb and the CAFE Special Recognition Award to Elena Popova.

The CAFE team is proud to be working closely with each of our award winners, and with many more of the access and inclusion champions who attended the Conference in Bilbao.

Read more: CAFE celebrates Access and Inclusion Champions at 2018 Conference

2018 certainly has been a memorable year for everyone at CAFE, and one that we will remember fondly for a long time to come. We are already looking forward to 2019 and some of the exciting works that we have planned.

We would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has worked with us in 2018, and we hope that you will join us again next year in continuing to promote a game that is accessible, inclusive and welcoming for all. That is what we call Total Football #TotalAccess!

Published 20/12/2018