Disabled fans' attendance record in Poland

The WKS Śląsk Wrocław v KS Lechia Gdańsk match in the Polish Ekstraklasa was notable for setting an attendance record for disabled fans of just over 1,000 supporters.

©CAFE

Last weekend brought up a historic milestone in Polish football as, for the first time, more than 1,000 disabled fans attended a match.

The domestic top-flight game in Wroclaw between WKS Śląsk Wrocław and KS Lechia Gdańsk on Saturday 18 April was played in a UEFA EURO 2012 purpose-built stadium, which now represents part of UEFA's legacy to the country from that tournament.

However, what was more significant about the Ekstraklasa fixture was that, among the total crowd of just over 11,000, disabled fans constituted nearly 10% of all spectators. Their attendance was arranged under the umbrella of UEFA's football social responsibility partner, the Centre for Access to Football in Europe (CAFE). The initiative formed part of CAFE's 'Total Football, Total Access' week of action, with the Wroclaw-based Klub Kibicow Niepelnosprawnych (KKN) – Poland's biggest disabled supporters association – helping to facilitate its success.

"This is a remarkable achievement, and we send hearty congratulations to KKN, Śląsk Wrocław and all the disabled fans who attended," said CAFE managing director Joyce Cook. "When I look back on when we first began to work in Poland, you could count the number of disabled people attending live football on your hands. We have all come so far football is changing the lives of disabled people in Poland."

KKN president Pawel Parus, whose association was founded in 2008 and regularly gets about 200 members attending matches, added: "Many people helped us to reach this goal. I am proud of all the disabled people who, on 18 April, left their homes and attended the Śląsk Wrocław-Lechia Gdańsk game."

"We are the first club in Europe who decided to take up the challenge to beat the 1,000 mark. I want to thank Śląsk Wrocław and all the institutions who assisted in this activity," added Michal Fitas, vice-director of KKN. The previous record for a Polish stadium was 230 disabled fans, set in 2011.

The goal of CAFE's 'Total Football, Total Access' week was to promote improved access to live matches for supporters with various disabilities and create an inclusive matchday experience. What initially seemed a difficult record to break turned out to be a triumph. The Wroclaw initiative will hopefully inspire other clubs in Europe to establish similar records, making football accessible and enjoyable for all.

Visit CAFE's website to find out more about this landmark event: http://bit.ly/1DEhjqC