Football is considered the game of the people and the experience of seeing your team in the flesh is one any fan hopes to have. We all know football isn’t a cheap day out, so if you do fork out the cash you want to soak up every moment. For most of us it’s simply a case of finding our seat and cheering until our voice is raw, but for disabled fans it requires much more planning. This is where football stadiums need to be equipped to help, but not all of them are.
Long-Winded and Exhausting
One of the biggest obstacles that disabled fans face when going to see a football match is the sheer amount of advanced planning that is required before arriving. Acquiring a set of tickets to a big game is difficult enough for any of us, but with the added addition of having to notify the stadium of your disability and the adjustments needed is additional hassle.
It may seem that prior notification is not an unreasonable request, but in the age of modern technology it should be as simple as ticking a box on a digital form. Instead, it seems to consist of putting together an entire list of those with disability and adjusting the facilities accordingly, rather than having permanently accessible disabled seating. In many ways the modern-day habit of excessive red tape has become a burden rather than a help for disabled football fans. Gone are the days of just turning up on Saturday and being let in.
Inadequate Seating for Disabled Fans
The planning prior to arriving at the stadium is just the first obstacle faced by disabled fans. Unsurprisingly one is a lack of seats, but this is the case across the entire stadium with the high demand to see a match. A more serious issue is that many disable seats simply do not provide a full experience of the game. One example is the Hampden Park stadium in Scotland where the view to the pitch was obstructed by advertising boards when in the disabled area. Although rectified now this kind of oversight is not uncommon.
There is Progress Being Made
It may seem like football stadiums are systematically failing disabled fans, but there is evidence to suggest gradual improvement.
Specialised areas and facilities have been introduced at certain clubs to provide a better experience. At Dundee United volunteers provide audio commentary for visually impaired and blind fans to help them follow the action, while Rangers have sensory rooms for fans with autism who become anxious in crowds. Initiatives as these shows there is a desire to improve stadiums for disabled fans.
There is certainly plenty of areas where football clubs can improve the access and experience for disabled fans, but instances such as these shows there is effort being made. It now needs to go beyond isolated examples and be expanded on a more universal scale. This way disabled football fans can enjoy a match with the only stress being a bad performance by their team.