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EURO 2012 is not limited to competition of football players on the fields of the stadiums. Within the framework of preparations for the championship, UEFA is implementing a program of football and social responsibility, which includes four key projects under the common motto RESPECT. UEFA allocated EURO 3 mn EURO 2012 for the football and social awareness and responsibility campaigns
The following four main projects will be implemented within the framework of UEFA’s RESPECT campaign during UEFA EURO 2012: Respect Diversity (fighting racism), Respect Fan Culture (fan support), Respect Inclusion (support of the disabled) and Respect Your Health (promoting a healthy lifestyle).
The project Respect Inclusion united three initiatives: Football without Borders, Showcase Games and Tournament charity during EURO 2012. The Center for Access to Football in Europe (CAFE), Disability Alliance and the TUS Foundation are UEFA’s partners in this joint project.
The project entails monitoring the accessibility of public places in all the host cities of EURO 2012. Over 100 volunteers of the project went through training to give their assessment of the infrastructure of hotels, restaurants, public transport and other facilities that guests of the tournament will use in Ukraine and Poland.
For recognition of volunteers and popularization of the project, all volunteers received uniforms with the logo of the Respect Inclusion campaign. In Ukraine the National Assembly of the Disabled, which is the local partner of CAFE, decided to engage people with a physical disability in the project with the help of cooperation with the Kyiv factory Sotsium Plus. The company manufactures football uniforms and souvenirs and hires people with physical disabilities for the production of sportswear.
“Our company employs 62 people with special needs who work with modern technology-intensive equipment and fulfill their duties at a highly professional level. We opened a creative department to allow these employees to offer their creative ideas and realize them,” says the factory’s general director Borys Volyanskiy.
Implementation of one of the programs in Ukraine called Football without Borders began in April. It is aimed at helping visually impaired people enjoy the matches of EURO 2012 thanks to audio-descriptive commentary. Specially trained commentators will give play-by-play commentary of what’s happening on the fields for visually impaired fans. In short, they will be their eyes. Every host stadium will be given 30 units of specialized audio equipment for those that want to watch a football match through “technically enhanced eyes”.
Today in Ukraine there are over 600,000 visually impaired people, more than 18% of whom are blind. In addition, according to UEFA, over 2,500 people with special needs will attend the EURO 2012 matches in Ukraine and Poland.
For Ukraine this initiative is quite an innovation. Indeed, the majority of European stadiums have for several years now been offering audio-descriptive commentaries of sport events. For example, Austrian commentator Martin Zwischensberger, who came to Ukraine to train volunteers, said Austrian TV provides audio-descriptive commentary of 17% of all sport events held in the country. “We regularly comment for the blind all football matches in Division I, all matches of the Austrian national team and all Olympic events,” the commentator noted.
He emphasized that the main focus in the art of audio-descriptive commentary is on the smallest details: colors, gestures and mimicry. This helps a visually impaired person get the best description of what is happening on the field. “The emotions and moods of other viewers play an important role as they together contribute to the atmosphere of the game,” says the Austrian specialist. He believes that the feeling of live football action and emotions integrate visually impaired people into the lives of those with healthy eyesight and make them feel equal among equals.
“We truly hope that this practice will be customary for Ukraine after EURO 2012. We are teaching volunteers the art of audio-descriptive commentary and some day it could actually become their full-time profession as they will be able to help visually impaired people not only be a part of sporting events, but also other socially important events,” said Chairman of the National Assembly of the Disabled Valeriy Sushkevych.Printable version