On 15 January 2019, the Disability Access Officer (DAO) Network Group met for the first time at FC Barcelona's iconic Camp Nou stadium. One year on, we look back at the growth of the Network Group and how its members are working together to improve access and inclusion across European football.

Since June 2015, the Disability Access Officer role has been enshrined within UEFA Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play Regulations. Article 35bis states;

1) The licence applicant must have appointed a disability access officer to support the provision of inclusive, accessible facilities and services.

2) The disability access officer will regularly meet and collaborate with the relevant club personnel on all related matters.

CAFE has been commissioned by UEFA to oversee the implementation of the role, and has established a network of DAOs to share best practices and common solutions to access and inclusion barriers.

The DAO Network Group was established to exchange good practices, whilst developing a collaborative strategy to promote and develop the DAO role at a European level.

DAOs are able to draw from their own experiences and share ideas and solutions with their colleagues, as well as ask for advice and support from other DAOs in dealing with particular situations that may develop.

In Barcelona, the DAO Network Group met for the first time. The Group, consisting of around 30 representatives from clubs, leagues and national federations, quickly started to work well together and establish a positive discussion.

The group looked into some of the existing barriers that disabled fans may encounter at football stadiums, and some of the early challenges that they have faced in their role as well as how they overcame them.

The DAO Network Group has stayed in regular contact, and met again in October in Leipzig where a number of working groups were established to develop DAO strategy moving forwards.

Clubs including Manchester City and hosts RB Leipzig presented on recent improvements they had made to their stadiums, with disabled fans also taking to the stage to discuss their experiences of attending matches both domestically and internationally.

The DAO Network Group continues to go from strength to strength, and is working well together and with CAFE towards our shared goal of Total Football #TotalAccess!

The DAO Network Group will meet next in September 2020, and we are currently looking to secure a host for the two-day meeting. If you would be interested in hosting this meeting or future meetings, please email CAFE DAO Project Manager Jochen Kemmer at [email protected].

For more information about the role of the Disability Access Officer, please visit our DAO Portal.

Published 15/1/2020