Football (or soccer as it wrongly called in America) is my greatest passion in life and I cannot go a single day without watching a match, whether that is live or on the television. Although I will happily watch even the most obscure teams such as Chelsea, I get the most enjoyment out of watching my beloved Arsenal. However, like with everything, being disabled means that there are obstacles that come in between my one true love and me. There are organizations such as the Centre for Access to Football in Europe who aim to improve access for disabled fans but I don’t see feel people in and around the English game take the matter seriously enough.
That’s why in the summer I will be compiling a strongly worded letter detailing the various issues with the grounds that I visit up and down the UK on a weekly basis. I have already been taking pictures so whoever reads it (I’m planning on sending it to the FA, Premier League and all the clubs that need to make the improvements) will be able to clearly see what I am complaining about. My grievances vary from not being able to see most of the pitch because of fans/cameramen standing in front of me (see photo above), to being stuck in the home end separated from my fellow Arsenal fans.
Another problem I have is the amount of wheelchair spaces that clubs allocate to away fans. Some are in the double figures, which is good (not perfect but nothing ever is) but most will only have 6 or less. One ground that shall remain nameless at the moment gives away roughly 2,500 tickets to visiting able-bodied supporters but only provides two wheelchair spots. I find that a ridiculous example of discrimination. How is that a fair ratio? The answer is it’s not, and it's as if they believe disabled football fans don’t really matter.
Before I go, I would like to leave with this point to think about. There are approximately 11.9 million (the numbers vary depending on what website you look at) disabled people in the UK, which is something like 19% of the overall population. Now I’m not asking that 19% of seats in stadiums be turned into wheelchair spaces but the percentage should be higher than 0.1%.