UEFA fails to respond to accessibility failures

UEFA is yet to respond to its repeated failures to accommodate disabled supporters three months on from the Champions League Final.

The charity, Level Playing Field demanded accountability from the football organisation in a letter three months ago and was reassured that a response would be provided.

The Champions League Final, which seen Manchester City defeat Inter Milan in Istanbul, was described to have been hazardous and potentially life endangering for disabled supporters, with one disabled fan breaking her femur in two places.

Clare Watson, a Manchester City supporter, was left lying alone in her own urine and described the event at Ataturk Olympic Stadium as ‘atrocious.

The failures followed horrific scenes at the 2022 UEFA Champions League Final in Paris, where police began using tear gas on supporters.

Liverpool supporter, Matthew Davies told Sky Sports it was, “the first time i’ve felt my life was in danger at a match.”

Level Playing Field did receive a response to its letter following that final, as a spokesperson said, “We (UEFA) constantly work to ensure the best possible conditions to eliminate barriers to access to UEFA competitions matches.”

The charity have only received confirmation of the receipt of its letter regarding the 2023 final.

Chair of Level Playing Field, Tony Taylor, said, “UEFA’s lack of response is deeply concerning, yet not surprising.

“After repeated failures, we demanded accountability. With no appetite to provide that, it is clear that their strategy has been to ignore the issue in the hope that it goes away.

“Accessibility and inclusion must be at the forefront when planning these major finals, and there must be tangible evidence of that.

“This season’s final is set to be held at Wembley Stadium and we have already reached out to see where we can provide support, in order to ensure accessibility is placed as a priority.”

The charity, which is the leading organisation for disabled sports fans across England and Wales, consults with thousands of supporters each season and has offered to put UEFA in direct contact with fans impacted by its failures.

Interestingly, many disabled supporters have turned to UK online casinos as a safer and more accessible alternative for entertainment, especially during major sporting events where physical accessibility remains a challenge.

Main image courtesy of Valerii Parkhomenko via Flickr

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