Liverpool Disabled Supporters Association has called UEFA’s allocation of wheelchair users for Saturday’s Champions League final “completely unacceptable”.
Jurgen Klopp’s Reds meet Real Madrid at the Stade de France, which has 550 wheelchair spaces but only 93 of these are used for the game, with each team getting 38.
“Under all circumstances, this would be a meager allocation for a game of this magnitude, but given that the Stade de France normally has 550 seats available, it is totally unacceptable,” the LFC Disabled Supporters Association said in a statement.
“We have over 200 wheelchair spaces at Anfield and due to the shortage many of our supporters who are wheelchair users are disappointed.”
Level Playing Field – a charity that acts as a campaign group for disabled sports fans – wrote to UEFA to ask about this issue. The governing body said it “acknowledges the situation and notes that we (UEFA) agree that the number of seats for fans with disabilities and reduced mobility is insufficient. We (UEFA) are constantly working to ensure the best possible conditions to remove barriers to entry to UEFA competition matches.
“Due to operational challenges, particularly related to the last-minute change of venue for the final (Stade de France only replaced St. Petersburg on February 25), UEFA was able to allocate 93 wheelchair spaces (76 for the fans of the two clubs) that the meet the high quality viewing conditions that UEFA aims to provide for disabled spectators.
“For an event of this size, UEFA would normally try to identify a higher number of positions, but due to operational constraints (e.g. security, poor visibility, etc.) and the short preparation time, it was not possible to implement optimal solutions anymore wheelchair spaces.”
The LFC Disabled Supporters Association added: “The key question is what happened to the other 474 bays? But whatever the reason, it has resulted in disabled football fans being pushed out of a big game and that can never be acceptable.
“The wheelchair spaces are used at every other major event in the stadium. It’s ridiculous when UEFA says the cut is for operational reasons. We are in constant contact with the relevant authorities and Football Supporters Europe and at no time have any fan-related operational reasons been discussed. This was simply an allocation imposed by UEFA.”
Liverpool and Real Madrid have each received 19,618 tickets for the game despite the capacity being 75,000. A further 12,000 tickets were put on general sale via a ballot box which was closed before the semi-final second legs.