CAFE conference sounds call for inclusive stadia

Stakeholders from across the continental game gathered in London as the first CAFE European conference provided an opportunity to discuss ways of making stadiums accessible to all.

CAFE was created to establish and promote equal access in European football stadiums
CAFE was created to establish and promote equal access in European football stadiums ©CAFE

The Centre for Access to Football in Europe (CAFE), created via UEFA's CHF 1m charity cheque in 2009, has held its inaugural Total Football, Total Access conference in London.

The event at Wembley Stadium on 24/25 September was the occasion for football dignitaries, stadium managers, architects, club representatives and disabled fans to meet and discuss making European football accessible to all. Keynote presentations from UEFA representatives, among others, focused on the importance of delivering accessible and inclusive stadia.

A key moment in the conference agenda came when Ben Veenbrink, a member of UEFA's stadium construction and management panel, and Joyce Cook, CAFE's managing director, jointly launched the UEFA and CAFE Good Practice Guide to Creating an Accessible Stadium and Matchday Experience.

CAFE is working closely with UEFA EURO 2012 organisers and the local organising committees (LOCs) in the two host countries, Poland and Ukraine, to help guarantee a more accessible experience for local and visiting disabled fans and tourists during the championship.

CAFE was created to promote and ensure equal access across the region covered by UEFA's member national associations. It provides support, guidance and advice to partners and stakeholders, which include UEFA, the national associations, leagues and clubs, disabled fans and disabled supporter groups.

The organisation also represents disabled fan rights in an on-topic division at the fan network Football Supporters Europe.

Major goals are inclusivity and equality of experience – and because football embraces diversity in all its forms, CAFE is working with the football family to raise disability awareness throughout Europe. Part of its mission is to empower disabled people to exercise their rights.

CAFE's primary motivation is to encourage and deliver inclusive football stadiums across Europe and to make sure that everyone – including those who face physical, sensory, psychological and intellectual barriers – can access the game.