At least 12% of the world’s population is disabled. This amounts to more than 840 million disabled people of which 285 million people are blind and partially sighted. To date, very few blind and partially sighted people have attended live events such as football matches in Brazil.

As part of the 2014 FIFA World Cup (FWC) Sustainability Strategy, FIFA and the Local Organising Committee (LOC), aim to provide a brand new audio‐descriptive commentary service for selected FIFA World Cup stadiums in Brazil. This service will enable many more disabled supporters to enjoy the tournament and also create a legacy that will have a lasting impact long after the final whistle at the 2014 FIFA World Cup™.

Project overview 

  • Service to be made available in Portuguese at four FWC stadiums in Belo Horizonte (Estádio Mineirão), Brasilia (Estádio Nacional de Brasília), Rio de Janeiro (Estádio do Maracanã), and São Paulo (Arena de São Paulo)
  • Two commentators per match
  • Commentary broadcast via radio frequency and picked up on personal radio headsets
  • Blind and partially sighted fans can sit anywhere in the stadium
  • Working with two NGOs to deliver this project: the Centre for Access to Football in Europe (CAFE) and Urece Sports and Culture, a Brazilian organisation working with partially sighted and blind people

In total, at least 16 volunteers, four from each of the selected Host Cities will complete an intensive audio-description training programme, delivered by CAFE and Urece, with the aim to provide a ground breaking new service in the region.

The commentary service equipment installed in each stadium for the 2014 FIFA World Cup will be donated after the competition to local entities that are willing to be part of the project legacy.

About audio-description
Partially sighted and blind people are often excluded from many cultural and sporting events that most of society would take for granted. In the context of a live football match, audio-descriptive commentary ensures that partially sighted or blind fans have a better understanding of the match they are attending and are able to more fully enjoy the match day experience alongside fellow fans.
Audio-description is similar to radio commentary but there is an emphasis on the stadium experience. Also, the specially trained commentator provides additional narration that describes all significant visual information such as body language, facial expression, scenery, action, clothing, colours and anything else that is important to conveying what the stadium looks like, what is going on during the match, as well as the ambience in the stadium.

Urece Sports and Culture is a non-profit association founded in 2005 and based in Rio de Janeiro. The association is led by blind people and offers sports, workshops and special projects to partially sighted and blind people of all ages. The sports offered by Urece include blind football, goal-ball and swimming.

About the 2014 FIFA World Cup Sustainability Strategy
The FIFA World Cup™ is the biggest single-event sporting competition in the world and its impact on society and the environment is indisputable. Staging such a world-class event requires careful consideration of all aspects to ensure a balanced approach and sustainable outcome. FIFA and the Local Organising Committee (LOC) take this responsibility very seriously and are committed to reducing the negative and increasing the positive impact of the event on society and the environment.

Published 06/12/2013