CAFE was recently invited to attend the third annual Disabled Fans Football Tournament in Saint-Étienne, France. For the first time, the tournament welcomed teams from outside of France and included players from Italy, Switzerland, Belgium and La Reunion.

The aim of the tournament is to fight discrimination and to promote inclusion in football and this year, as well as inviting disabled football fans, the event organisers, T.R.J.S (Territoires Ruraux: Jeunesse et Sport) opened the tournament to women. This was done to address the low numbers of female participation in the sport.

A total of 22 teams, split into two different tournaments, took part. The event spanned over two days and included around 200 disabled fans going to watch Saint-Étienne play Guingamp at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard. Those teams that reached the semi-finals and final had the opportunity to play on Saint-Étienne’s home turf.

The two teams from Olympique Marseille DSA won both tournaments, and were presented with a special trophy created by a local disabled artist. It was emphasised that the event wasn’t about who won, but who took part and all participants were thanked for playing. During the awards ceremony each team came forward to be presented with medals and trophies, as well as a pennant by CAFE’s Joanna Deagle.

Joanna was accompanied by CAFE Project Coordinator in France Dave Moussy. They introduced CAFE and our works, and encouraged disabled fans to HAVE THEIR SAY on stadium access via the CAFE website.

Speaking after the event, Joanna said, "We would like to thank the event organisers, Territoires Ruraux Jeunesse et Sport and Carlos Acosta, for inviting us to this great tournament and helping us to spread our message of 'Total Football, Total Access'. We would also like to thank the Saint Etienne Disabled Supporters Association for their efforts to promote CAFE to the disabled fans who took part in the day".

This year’s tournament was the biggest so far in terms of both support and number of teams participating. The man behind the event, Carlos Acosta, an ex-football player for several French clubs and the Uruguay national team, expects that next year's tournament will be even bigger. Carlos is aiming for the participation of even more European DSAs, and to possibly host the tournament  in another region.

CAFE is looking forward to continuing a positive cooperation, and working towards improved access and inclusion for disabled fans in France.

Published 23/06/2015