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 matches will give UEFA 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.
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 at 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 tomorrow.
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 Saturday. At Kyiv's Olympic Stadium a seven-a-side game for players with locomotive disabilities, such as cerebral palsy, will take place on Sunday.
UEFA EURO 2012 Ambassador and former Poland favourite Andrzej Szarmach said: "It's very important to show supporters and athletes 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."
RESPECT Inclusion initiatives
UEFA is working with CAFE to manage two other RESPECT Inclusion initiatives. Under the Football with No Limits program, access information is provided to disabled fans and visitors by 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. UEFA is paving the way by donating €3,000 for each goal scored during the tournament, having already raised €175,000 through a charity ticket auction.
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