UEFA EURO 2012 will be welcoming disabled athletes to demonstrate their football skills at matches taking place ahead of the quarter-finals in Warsaw, Gdansk, Donetsk and Kyiv. These games form part of UEFA’s RESPECT Inclusion projects, initiatives implemented by CAFE (Centre for Access to Football in Europe) to promote the integration of disabled players and fans into football.
The showcase games give EURO 2012 fans the opportunity to watch disabled players compete against each other. The series of events was announced at press conference hosted by Special Olympics Poland in Warsaw, one of the project partners in the region.
A total of four matches will be staged at stadiums 90 minutes before the quarter-final matches kick-off. A seven-a-side game for athletes with intellectual disabilities from Special Olympics Poland will take place today in the National Stadium Warsaw. A five-a-side game for blind and partially-sighted players from the CROSS association will be staged in the Arena Gdansk on 22 June.
CAFE’s partner in Ukraine – the National Association of People with Disabilities – will put on seven-a-side game for deaf players in Donbass Arena, Donetsk on 23 June. At the Olympic Stadium in Kyiv a seven-a-side game for players with locomotive disabilities, such as cerebral palsy will take place on 24 June.
UEFA EURO 2012 Ambassador Andrzej Szarmach, a legendary Polish striker, said: “It is very important to show supporters and athletes alike, that disabled people can participate in sports activities and be a part of football just like anyone else. By showcasing and celebrating disabled athletes they become a part of EURO 2012 which shows great progress in Poland and Ukraine”.
Besides the “Showcase Games”, UEFA is working with CAFE to manage two more RESPECT Inclusion initiatives. Under the “Football with No Limits” initiative, access information is provided to disabled fans and visitors by the means of a tailor-made guide. Funds for future inclusion projects will be raised through the UEFA EURO 2012 tournament charity project, encouraging football supporters and other benefactors to donate money for upcoming projects, with UEFA paving the way by committing to donate €3,000 for each goal scored during the tournament and having already raised EUR 175,000 through a charity ticket auction.
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