On Wednesday 17 May, Southampton FC – whose shirts are sponsored by Virgin Media – will wear a special Scope branded shirt to highlight issues faced by disabled football fans, which was brought to light in some new research on accessibility in football grounds.
Football should be for everyone
The research highlights some very worrying statistics, including the fact that 80% of football fans with disabilities say they have experienced some form of discrimination or other issues resulting from their disability and that a huge 62% of fans who said this have been put off going to live matches.
On top of this 29% of disabled fans said that they have been a victim of verbal abuse when attending a football game – a shocking statistic.
Virgin Media – whose partnership with Scope aims to help transform the lives of disabled people across the country – will remove their logo from the shirt on Wednesday.
Scope’s Chief Executive, Mark Atkinson, said;
This new research should serve as a wakeup call to all football clubs and fans.
Football is our national game and has the ability to 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.
The shirt-swap is also being backed by Paralympic gold medallist and avid football fan, Richard Whitehead MBE, who will help coach five Southampton supporters for a penalty shoot-out during half time at the match; Virgin Media will donate £5,000 to Scope for every goal scored!
Brigitte Trafford of Virgin Media said;
All football should be enjoyed by all fans, plain and simple. Fans are the heart of football and that means disabled fans too. It’s time for change. In football and society, disability discrimination can and should be a thing of the past.”