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UEFA EURO 2024 volunteer tandem programme kicks off in Cologne

With 50 days to go until the big kick-off, an inclusive volunteer programme pairs 50 people with disabilities with 'tandem’ partners to work alongside them throughout the tournament.

EURO 2024 mascot Albärt with the Henri Delaunay cup in Cologne
EURO 2024 mascot Albärt with the Henri Delaunay cup in Cologne UEFA via Getty Images

Thousands of volunteers across Germany will play a significant role in the success of UEFA EURO 2024, and host city Cologne has put an inclusive programme in place to ensure the experience is open to all.

Cologne has recruited 50 people with intellectual disabilities to become EURO 2024 volunteers, each assigned a tandem partner to work with throughout the tournament and assist with any challenges that may arise.

The programme kicked off on Tuesday 9 April as the 50 volunteers and their tandems met for the first time. This event allowed everyone to get to know their partners, ensuring they feel comfortable and safe with each other ahead of the volunteer kick-off event on Saturday 27 April.

Andreas, UEFA EURO 2024 volunteer:

"I really like that also people with intellectual disabilities like me are able to participate as volunteers in big events in Cologne. This makes me feel well integrated and I am looking forward to UEFA EURO 2024."

Cologne sets focus on inclusivity

Diversity and inclusion is one of four areas of action in the social pillar of UEFA’s EURO 2024 environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategy, ensuring that the tournament is open to all and that every social group can be a part of the festivities.

This includes providing access and integration to people with disabilities, and Cologne is putting a particular focus on this through the volunteer tandem programme.

Ellena, UEFA EURO 2024 volunteer and tandem partner:

"The extra effort to enable the participation of people with intellectual disabilities from the volunteer team in Cologne is very fascinating. I am very happy to support the inclusive volunteer programme by being a tandem partner."

Inspiration for the initiative came during the Special Olympics World Games Berlin 2023, the largest inclusive sporting event in the world. The host town programme during that event, which welcomed the athletes to 200 locations across Germany, was the largest communal inclusion project in Germany’s history, and motivated EURO 2024 organisers in Cologne to follow this example of inclusivity.

Volunteers and their tandem partners in Cologne
Volunteers and their tandem partners in Cologne

A working group was set up in November 2022 to further develop the idea, which included several organisations with experience and knowledge of the topic of inclusion: Gemeinnützigen Werkstätten Köln GmbH, DJK Sportverband Köln, Gold Krämer Stiftung and Lebenshilfe Köln. Each organisation has since become a delivery partner for the programme.

During the recruitment phase, the volunteer management team visited several sheltered workshops to help with applications, which is often the first major barrier for people with disabilities.

Cologne volunteer management team:

"We are very proud about our inclusive volunteer team in Cologne as it is our goal to be open to everyone. It is great to see the enthusiasm with which our volunteers participate in our tandem programme, and we are very impressed by their openness and commitment. Now, after all tandems have met, we look forward to accompanying them during the tournament in action."

UEFA EURO 2024’s ESG strategy

As the third-largest sporting event in the world, the UEFA European Championship aims to be a reference point for sustainability in the world of sports, and a driving force for sustainable development in Germany and beyond.

A dedicated ESG strategy, backed by a €32 million investment, focuses on targeted investments and measures to contribute to the delivery of a successful tournament. A key element of the ESG strategy’s social pillar is diversity and inclusion. UEFA EURO 2024 will work to bring people of different ages, backgrounds and abilities together for the common passion of football. Included within this is the provision of equal access and opportunities for the tournament’s workforce and volunteers, and the tandem programme is a perfect example of this in action.

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