The CAFE Week of Action 2019 was celebrated across Europe once again this season, with clubs and governing bodies across Russian football taking part.

Since 2013, the CAFE Week of Action has provided footballing stakeholders with the opportunity to promote wider access and inclusion on a European scale. For the third year in succession, Russia has taken part in the initiative with even more participants than ever before.

The Russian Football Union (RFU) promoted the CAFE Week of Action across its website and social media channels, encouraging fellow stakeholders to get involved and celebrate Total Football #TotalAccess.

The RFU created a video featuring Aleksandr Kashirin, a disabled CSKA Moscow fan, discussing his typical matchday experiences and some of the barriers that he encounters.The video also features blind fan Petr Matkov and deaf fan Sergei Mashukov discussing why #TotalAccess is important to them.

The video can be viewed below, or externally at

The CAFE Week of Action was also promoted by the Football National League in Russia, publishing a statement of support on its website and urging clubs to come together to celebrate #TotalAccess.

Across Russia, a total of 34 clubs took part in this season's CAFE Week of Action. This is by far the most clubs in a single country to take part to date!

CAFE Week of Action celebration at ZenitParticipating clubs: Arsenal Tula, Dynamo Moscow, Enisey, Zenit St Petersburg, Krasnodar, Krylya Sovetov, Lokomotiv Moscow, Orenburg, Rostov, Rubin Kazan, Spartak Moscow, Ural, Ufa, CSKA Moscow, Avangard, Armavir, Baltika, Zenit-2, Krasnodar-2, Luch, Mordoviya, Nizhny Novgorod, Rotor, Sibir, SKA-Khabarovsk, Sochi, Spartak-2, Tambov, Tom', Tyumen', Fakel, Khimki, Chertanovo, Shinnik.

Each of the clubs published news stories and shared information on social media to inform their followers of the initiative, with many taking the opportunity to raise awareness of the accessible services and facilities that they have.

Pre-match ceremonies were also very popular across Russia during the CAFE Week of Action. In total, 27 clubs hosted such an event with a mixture of players and disabled fans carrying CAFE Week of Action banners out onto the pitch prior to kick off. In some cases, players also entered the field wearing t-shirts with CAFE Week of Action graphics.

11 clubs also invited disabled fans to accompany players onto the pitch ahead of their matches. This included Zenit St Petersburg and FC Khimki, who both worked with Russian disability NGO Perspektiva to welcome disabled player escorts to the stadiums.

Three clubs - CSKA Moscow, Lokomotiv Moscow and Nizhny Novgorod - each invited a disabled fan to take part in a symbolic kick-off to start the match. CSKA and Lokomotiv both invited fans with Down's Syndrome to take part, whilst in Nizhny Russian national amputee footballer Egor Putikin got the match underway.

Many clubs also used the CAFE Week of Action as an opportunity to welcome more disabled fans to attend live matches. Working with local disability organisations, schools and NGOs, clubs promoted their facilities and services and welcomed more disabled fans to attend live matches - many for the first time. The largest example of this was at Rostov, where 130 disabled fans were welcomed to attend a live game.

Away from matchday activities, three clubs held open training sessions where disabled fans were invited to attend. Disabled fans at Enisey, Rubin Kazan and Zenit St Petersburg were able to meet some of their heroes and take pictures, creating memories that will last a lifetime.

A number of clubs also came up with unique and innovative ways to celebrate Total Football #TotalAccess during the CAFE Week of Action. This included Krylya Sovetov, who invited disabled fans to attend an event to present new players signed by the club. The disabled fans in attendance received gifts from the club, and carried a CAFE Week of Action banner to provide even greater exposure for the initiative.

At Spartak Moscow, goalkeeper Artyom Rebrov took part in an auction to raise funds for With My Own Eyes - an organisation working to support partially sighted and blind children. With My Own Eyes donated audio-descriptive commentary equipment to the club, and the service was provided at a match against Krasnodar during the CAFE Week of Action.

CAFE Eastern European Development Officer Esther Jones Russell said, "After a great response to last season's CAFE Week of Action, and hosting the most accessible FIFA World Cup to date, it is fantastic to see Russian football's continued commitment to access and inclusion. The CAFE Week of Action is a unique opportunity for football to celebrate its disabled fans, and Russia has once again made the most of this opportunity. Congratulations to everyone who made the CAFE Week of Action 2019 such a huge success in Russia!".

There were many more great examples of CAFE Week of Action celebrations taking place in Russia, and we are extremely grateful to the RFU, the Footbal National League and every club that took part. The CAFE Week of Action continues to grow and develop in Russia, and we look forward to celebrating access and inclusion for many years to come!

Published 11/04/2019