We’re teaming up with Virgin Media to highlight disability discrimination in football grounds.
New research shows that disabled football fans feel excluded from live games. Eight in ten people who attend football stadiums across the UK say they have experienced some form of discrimination such as abusive language and negative attitudes from other fans and other issues resulting from their disability.
As a result, the majority 62% of disabled fans said these experiences had stopped them from going to a live match again.
To highlight the issue and put disabled fans at the heart of the game, Virgin Media is donating its shirt sponsorship of Southampton FC to Scope for the Saints home match against Manchester United FC next Wednesday (17 May).
This special one-off activity forms part of Virgin Media’s partnership with Scope to help transform the lives of disabled people, and to date, the company has donated £1 million to Scope.
Together with Virgin Media, we’re calling on fans and clubs and governing bodies to help improve the experiences of disabled fans at grounds across the UK and deliver everyday equality for disabled people.
Football is our national game and should bring people together. We know that large numbers of fans want everyday equality and that means an inclusive game where discrimination of any kind isn’t tolerated. Disabled fans shouldn’t feel forced out of the stadium.
Side-lined in the stands
The survey reveals disabled football fans feel unwelcome in the terraces because of the reception they receive from some non-disabled fans.
The findings show that nearly 40% of disabled supporters who go to matches say they have experienced negative attitudes from other fans and 29% said they had been victim of verbal abuse.
Almost two-thirds (62%) of disabled football fans think the football industry needs to do more to prevent abuse and discrimination towards disabled people.
This is also backed by a separate poll of non-disabled fans who go to matches, where more than half (52%) think more should be done to prevent discrimination towards disabled people at football matches.
Disabled fans want a better experience
The poll has also found that football clubs could do more to improve the experiences disabled fans have at live games.
Less than half of disabled fans (43%) said their club had staff who are well trained in disabled fans’ needs, while only 42% said their club had a zero-tolerance statement on abuse for example, which may cover the use of negative language. More than a third (38%) of disabled fans who go to matches said a lack of appropriate facilities at other stadiums stop them from going to an away game.
More than half of non-disabled football fans think more should be done to make clubs more accessible for disabled fans.
Gold medal hero backs campaign
The shirt-swap is being backed by Paralympic gold medallist and avid football fan, Richard Whitehead MBE.
Richard will help coach five Southampton supporters for a penalty shoot-out during half time at the match to raise up to £25,000 for Scope. Virgin Media will donate £5,000 to Scope for every goal scored. The penalty takers will have to score past formidable opposition in the shape of Southampton FC’s official mascot Sammy the Saint.
Virgin Media is the UK’s only TV provider to offer all the football on Sky Sports and BT sports in one package.
You can follow all the match day action using the Twitter hashtag #AllTheFootball.