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Level Playing Field Response to UEFA

More questions than answers

On May 24th, Level Playing Field wrote to UEFA asking why only 14% of available wheelchair user spaces have been offered to disabled supporters who might require this accessible space. We sought assurances that the wheelchair user spaces that have not been provided to supporters who might use them not be used for camera/media positioning or given to corporate partners that do not have a disability.

Lastly, we also raised questions about the stadium, which is to host the Champions League final on Saturday and the Summer Olympics and Paralympics in 2024. The Stade de France in Paris.

On May 25th, Level Playing Field received a response from UEFA Football and Social Responsibility division (FSR) thanking Level Playing Field for the email but stating that.

UEFA “acknowledge the situation and states that we (UEFA) agree that the number of seats available to disabled and low mobility supporters is insufficient. We (UEFA) constantly work to ensure the best possible conditions to eliminate barriers to access to UEFA competitions matches.”

They went on to state that…

“Due to operational challenges, linked in particular to the change of venue for the final on short notice (Stade de France replaced Saint Petersburg only on February 25th), UEFA was able to assign 93 wheelchair positions (76 allocated to the fans of the two clubs) which fulfil the quality sightlines UEFA aims to offer to disabled spectators.”

“For an event of this size, UEFA would usually aim to identify a higher number of positions, but due to operational constraints (e.g. security, poor view, etc.) and the short preparation time, it was not possible to implement optimal solutions for more wheelchair positions.

Regardless of this year’s specific situation, we will continue to work to improve accessibility to UEFA’s matches.”

This morning Level Playing Field has responded to UEFA, thanking them for their response. However, Our questions and assurances have not been directly answered,

UEFA have confirmed that there is insufficient space for disabled fans. So Why was a stadium that UEFA themselves stated has “poor views” and possible security issues choose to host a major international final?

We ask again, are UEFA stating that 457 wheelchair user spaces at the Stade de France are not fit for purpose?

We have also asked if disability inclusion was ‘factored in’ when choosing the final stadium for this year’s tournament? We appreciate that the situation in Russia has caused issues; however, the final is being hosted in a stadium that even UEFA state has “insufficient” available wheelchair user spaces.

Lastly, UEFA did not provide any assurances that any available wheelchair user spaces are not being used for camera/media positioning or given to corporate partners that may not have a disability?

#EqualGame is UEFA’s campaign to promote its vision that everyone should be able to enjoy football. However, their actions regarding this year’s final, #EqualGame means Equality as long as you are not disabled.

UEFA has chosen a stadium which boasts 550 Wheelchair user spaces; however, it would seem only 96 are fit four purposes. They state ‘it’s not possible to ‘implement optimal solutions.

It would seem that UEFA chose to discriminate and withhold rather than work to find a Stadium that could provide the best possible matchday experience for Liverpool and Real Madrid disabled supporters.

We call on UEFA to look to work more closely with CAFE when choosing their stadiums for future UEFA matches and that they review their attitudes regarding disability inclusion so football is genuinely an #EqualGame

Level Playing Field supports disabled sports fans in England and Wales; we advise that disabled supporters not based in England and Wales attend a sporting event outside of England and Wales to please contact CAFE.