On the occasion of the 2023 UEFA Super Cup held at the Karaiskakis Stadium on August 16, UEFA, the UEFA Foundation, CAFE, and the social enterprise “Me Alla Matia” have collaborated to ensure inclusion in the match between Manchester City and Sevilla and any relevant actions.
More specifically, the CAFE-Center for Access to Football in Europe works to remove existing barriers. It focuses on “universal access” by harnessing the power of sport to act as a catalyst for including people with disabilities.
With the motto “Sport | Accessibility | Inclusion for disabled people” it implements supporting actions and services for total access in the following areas:
- Experiencing live sports
- Empowerment of disabled fans
- Knowledge and information
- A disability-inclusive world
- A sustainable environment and climate for all
CAFE strives for a world where people with disabilities are a pivotal part of the global sporting landscape as fans, workers, volunteers, and leaders.
Some of the accessible amenities:
- Trained “Social Responsibility” volunteering for the exclusive support of disabled fans on and off the pitch
- Audio description of the game for visually impaired people in Greek, English, and Spanish. The service is accessible via the Raydio – Audio Inclusion app, available on Google Play and the App Store. The description is specialized and done by trained people to include all meaningful visual information. This includes body language, facial expressions, scenery, action, clothes, colors, and anything noteworthy to convey the image, space, match, event, or the surrounding atmosphere. During the game, the commentator describes the action on the pitch rather than talking about statistics or tactics or providing lengthy summaries of previous moments.
- Adapted toilets inside and outside the stadium
- Easy Access Tickets for people with reduced mobility
- Detailed description of accessible services and access information on the UEFA website
- Reserved Seats for people in wheelchairs
- Free ticket for the companion of persons with disabilities
- Provision of wheelchairs of a simple type for more comfortable movement within the stadium for people with reduced mobility
- Providing a personal assistant for more specialized support and meeting the needs of disabled fans
“Me Alla Matia” NPO as a crucial contributor
“Me Alla Matia” NPO also assisted in this massive effort by providing a specialized personal assistant with experience in supporting wheelchair users and accompanying people with visual impairments, knowledgeable in Greek Sign Language, English, and Spanish, to serve every sports fan in their native language. With her presence there, the safe movement of fans in wheelchairs and their support for equal access to the match, services, and facilities were established. The Head of Inclusion Programs of “Me Alla Matia” NPO, Thalia Kiousi, who assumed the above role, supported the training of the “Social Responsibility” volunteers before the race to further familiarize them with disability and accessibility.
In the context of the above actions, the President of “Me Alla Matia” NPO, Vaggelis Avgoulas, was selected as the Accessibility Monitor of the organization to examine and experience the services. This way, he could prepare appropriate feedback to develop the above services in light of the final disabled user’s experience. This collaboration was carried out based on the relevant expertise of Mr. Avgoulas, who, coordinating the target groups of disabled people of “Me Alla Matia” NPO, acts as an Accessibility Consultant for companies and organizations, such as the Superfund and Athens Transport, Praktiker Hellas, the program youth employment ReGeneration, OTIS et al. designing inclusion strategies. As an Accessibility Supervisor, Mr. Avgoulas provided a detailed evaluation within 48 hours accompanied by relevant photographic material, among other things, for the ticket management application, the audio description, the adapted toilets, the support from the specialized volunteering, the behavior of the stewards towards the disabled fans, the experience in the stadium, the treatment of his personal assistant by the organization, etc.
Uefa Super Cup Fan Festival
One day before the match, on August 15, meallamatia.gr attended and covered the Fan Festival; under the hashtag #FootbALL, football matches were organized with the Legends 2004 and athletes from the Special Olympics, Action Aid, and disabled children from the UEFA Foundation. We had the opportunity to meet the President of the UEFA Foundation and talk to the legends of Greek football who strongly supported the action. Vaggelis Avgoulas, representing “Me Alla Matia” NPO, together with Mr. Nikos Gavalas, Director of Social Responsibility of Olympiacos F.C., explained to the President of the Foundation and veteran international footballers the cooperation of the social enterprise with the football club in the recent venture of audio description of matches for blind sports fans.