UEFA has generously donated the 2009 Monaco Award to extend the excellent work of the UK based National Association of Disabled Supporters (NADS) to establish a new Europe-wide charity called CAFE, Centre For Access to Football in Europe.

CAFE, a newly registered charity in the UK, will seek to ensure that all disabled people can follow football in Europe by achieving equality of access to the game in all UEFA member associations. 

At the award ceremony in Monaco on Thursday 27th August 2009, UEFA President Michel Platini presented Joyce Cook, Chair of NADS and Managing Director of CAFE, and Danny Wallace, ex Manchester United and Ambassador for NADS and CAFE, with a cheque for the sum of one million Swiss francs.

Joyce Cook, who accepted the cheque on behalf of CAFE, said: "I want to say a huge thank you to UEFA on behalf of disabled people across Europe. We are delighted by this decision, which highlights UEFA's recognition of disabled supporters and its commitment to creating an equal experience for all football fans.

Using the special influence of football within Europe, CAFE will raise disability awareness and improve the lives of disabled people.

"I believe that through football, CAFE will contribute to strengthening understanding of disability and help disabled people become welcome in communities across Europe and valued, alongside non-disabled supporters, at the heart of the football-going experience.

Thanks to UEFA's generosity, our vision has been transformed into an achievable plan designed to span all 54 UEFA member associations."  

Senes Erzik, 1st Vice President and Chairman of the UEFA Fair Play and CSR Committee, added: "The UEFA Executive Board is delighted to be able to support this year's Monaco Award winner. The CAFE project highlights the importance of social inclusion for all fans including disabled fans. We wish the Centre for Access to Football in Europe every success in its ambition to see equal access to all football stadia across Europe."

CAFE will provide a welcoming hub, offering support and guidance to all stakeholders as the European football family comes together to improve stadium facilities and services for disabled supporters. The new organisation will also assist and encourage disabled supporters to set up their own groups across Europe to continue this work at a local level and ensure that more disabled people are able to follow live football in legacy.

CAFE is also pleased to announce David Bernstein as Chairman of the Board of Trustees. Bernstein is held in high regard across the football world and came to prominence in 1998 when he was appointed Chairman of Manchester City. He is also the non-executive Chairman of Wembley National Stadium and President of NADS.

David Bernstein said: "I am delighted that UEFA has made this award to CAFE. It will enable this new organisation to make a real difference to the lives of many disabled people across Europe. We are looking forward to meeting this exciting challenge."

Bernstein and Cook will be joined on the Board of Trustees by Lord Richard Rosser of Ickenham who is a NADS Vice President and also Vice President of the Ryman Isthmian Football League; Chris Bird who spent 4 years at Manchester City FC as Chief Operating Officer and Darren Berman who was Head of Legal and Corporate Affairs for Wembley Stadium from 2002-2009. 

The Board of Trustees will be supported by Technical Director, James Froggatt, author of the Accessible Stadia Guide in the UK and a full Advisory Board of representatives from across Europe including disabled football fans and disability groups. 

Access for disabled people to public facilities and services varies considerably across Europe, as does the cultural and social view of disabled people.  Building regulations and guidance varies in each country and CAFE endeavours to change the way in which some cultures view disability, encouraging social equality and cultural cohesion.

The CAFE website www.cafefootball.eu, which launched today, will create a multi-lingual, accessible and inclusive European hub which will grow organically over time. It will provide disabled supporter information on European football stadia alongside disability; access and building regulations guidance with help sheets and support materials. It will also provide an evolving database containing information on disabled supporter groups and associated organisations across football in Europe.

Published 02/09/2009