In a previous article about the disability access officer (DAO) we underlined the importance of the role in the improvement of the holistic relationship of a club with its supporters, as disabled supporters are a different segment of the fan base with different demands and requirements that need to be understood and met.
In Germany, DAOs from 25 Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 clubs recently gathered for their annual plenary organised by the German Football League (DFL), at which they had the opportunity to share ideas, foster and strengthen existing networks and build on the work for increased levels of inclusion in the future. The event was also supported by independent organisations, such as Aktion Mensch e.V. and the Disabled Sport Association, as well as the Bundesliga Foundation.
The meeting heard a video message from Thomas Schneider, Head of Supporter Liaison at the DFL, who said: “I hope everyone takes advantage of the additional time here together to discuss and develop new content for us to work on“. The discussion was moderated by Arne Stratmann, who has responsibility for barrier-free access matters in the DFL supporter liaison department, and centred on three main issues: the role of the DAO, the elaboration of ticketing standards for people with disabilities and the creation of a handbook for the work of the DAO.
Stratmann said: “The work with external partners is very important, as they have several years of experience in this area and contribute their expertise to help us achieve a more inclusive football. The Bundesliga Foundation also has a crucial role in the work we do with disabled supporters“. Bundesliga Foundation chairman Stefan Kiefer added: “Our role is to address inclusion in a structured way. We have some good areas of work in which we should continue to move forward together”. Alexander Westheide, member of the Strategy Committee of Aktion Mensch e.V., said: “We are here to support you in your work, not to dictate how you should implement inclusion“.
At the end of the meeting the participants expressed their satsifaction with the new meeting format introduced by the Bundesliga. “You get the feeling that the plenary meeting really accomplished something. It has been two fruitful days of dialogue“, said Fortuna Dusseldorf DAO Stefan Felix.
From 1st July 2015, a new UEFA Club Licensing Criterion will be introduced with a requirement to appoint a dedicated Disability Access Officer at each club. Our partner, CAFE (Centre for Access to Football in Europe) will be coordinating the implementation of this new criterion. For more information, please contact CAFE directly at E: firstname.lastname@example.org or T: +44 (0)20 8621 2405