France’s top football club has been ordered to close part of its stadium for its next home game in European competition, as punishment for the “discriminatory” behaviour of some of its fans towards disabled Chelsea supporters.
Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), which plays at Parc des Princes, has been handed the punishment by UEFA, the governing body of European football.
It is believed to be the first time UEFA has taken disciplinary action against a club for abuse of disabled fans.
The incident took place at last season’s Champions League quarter-final first-leg match on 2 April.
Disabled Chelsea fans told later how they were forced to sit beneath a section of home supporters who abused and threatened them, and threw bottles and spat at them.
The user-led Centre for Access to Football in Europe (CAFE) welcomed the “determined” action taken by UEFA, which “sends a clear message to all clubs that abuse of disabled fans will not be tolerated”.
Joyce Cook, managing director of CAFE, said: “CAFE understands that this was a particularly unpleasant incident with the Chelsea disabled fans abused and threatened by a minority of home fans whom they were confronted by based on being in the wrong place through no fault of their own.
“This could have happened at a number of European clubs where disabled away fans have no choice but to sit with the opposing home fans and we have had other reports of similar incidents in the past.”
Cook said it was discriminatory to leave fans vulnerable to abuse purely because they were disabled.
She said that an access guide published by CAFE and UEFA offers clear guidance to clubs on this issue.
PSG will be one of the hosts for the Euro 2016 championships in two years’ time, but is planning “significant access improvements”, said Cook.
She added: “We are looking forward to working with PSG and other clubs in a similar situation to help implement inclusive solutions that will leave a lasting legacy of the tournament for all football fans.”
23 July 2014
News provided by John Pring at www.disabilitynewsservice.com