Whether a spectator or a player, it is paramount everyone is included in European football – this is the message to mark the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
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Football can certainly contribute to creating a more inclusive and equitable world for persons with disabilities. Therefore, UEFA continues to develop programmes throughout the year to ensure access to football for disabled people.
On the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD), which is celebrated annually around the world, we want to take this opportunity to take you on a tour of our activities in the field.
Social responsibility programmes
UEFA's social responsibility programme has built a number of long-standing partnerships to instigate change and have an impact where it can help.
Victims of landmines in Afghanistan are benefiting from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) rehabilitation centre supported by UEFA, which provides artificial limbs, physiotherapy, vocational training and access to the centre's football team. The partnership is linked to the UEFA.com users' annual Team of the Year competition, and last year's cheque was presented by France star Paul Pogba.
The Centre for Access to Football in Europe (CAFE) is working to promote and improve stadium accessibility for disabled football fans across Europe. During club finals and at major European tournaments, our partner ensures a 'Total Football Total Access' match experience. At UEFA EURO 2016, for example, Audio-Description Commentary was provided for the first time in France, and wheelchair access to stadiums was substantially improved.
UEFA helps to promote 'Football for All', to increase playing opportunities for disabled players through the following organisations:
- International Blind Sports Association (IBSA)
- International Federation of Cerebral Palsy Football (IFCPF)
- Special Olympics Europe Eurasia (SOEE)
- European Deaf Sports Organisation (EDSO)
- European Powerchair Football Association (EPFA)
- European Amputee Football Federation (EAFF)
Support is given to tournaments featuring these six forms of football, and demonstration matches are showcased at important European football events, such as the Champions Festival, which takes place every year in the city hosting the UEFA Champions League final.
UEFA Foundation for Children programmes
Active in Europe and throughout the world, the UEFA Foundation for Children also works with three partners to help disabled children:
The International Foundation of Applied Disability Research (FIRAH) is active in Europe, and helps children suffering from autistic disorders through the use of new technologies to foster communication and education.
The Just Play programme, in Polynesia, supports children with physical or mental disabilities, and organises weekly training sessions. This project aims to tackle negative bias, as 90% of disabled children in the Pacific Islands do not attend school, and are often excluded from physical activity.
Last but not least, at the UEFA Super Cup ceremony in Trondheim, the Foundation invited Handicap International to launch their 'Stop Bombing Civilians!' campaign, and send a message of solidarity towards disabled people. For the first time, during a pre-match ceremony, two children in wheelchairs escorted the players onto the field to promote football for all.