Criticism of German Football:” bei Barrierefreiheit nur Kreisliga “

criticism of german football bei barrierefreiheit nur kreisliga

Last Update: 08.02.2024 10: 56 Am

Jürgen Dusel has been the Federal Government’s Commissioner for people with disabilities since 2018. The 58-year-old is also a football Fan with great sympathies for FC Energie Cottbus. In an Interview with Sportschau, he criticizes German football-for too little accessibility and inclusion. He calls the behavior of the German Football League(DFL), its clubs and municipal stadium operators unprofessional and discriminatory in view of the lack of wheelchair spaces.

Sportschau: Mr Dusel, in Germany there is the Model Assembly Places ordinance. This stipulates that in stadiums up to 5,000 seats one percent and in larger stadiums 0.5 percent of all seats must be kept ready for wheelchair users. 13 out of 16 federal states have adopted this 1:1. But no German Stadium meets this requirement. How can that be?

Jürgen Dusel: This is bitter. Of course, you have to ask yourself what the supervisory authorities do if such places do not arise. It is not only a question of Fairness that people with disabilities have access to stadiums, that they can then really experience the sports experience – but that is a question of law.

Sportschau: During our research, we learned that the building authorities like to make exceptions for their stadium operators and clubs. It has to do with the Football Lobby.

Dusel: I can’t confirm that from my wait. I can only say that there are rules that must be observed. It is not a matter of charity or ‘nice to have‘, but the Federal Republic of Germany has ratified the United Nations Convention on the rights of Persons with disabilities – thus making it applicable law. It was not only the Federation that did this. In the Federal Council, too, the Länder have raised their fingers.

And it describes that people with disabilities have a legal right to access the Built Environment. Article Nine. And also to sports venues-according to Article 30. And I think it is the task of the state, and by this I mean the countries in particular, that this participation also takes place. The fact that I can also live this right as a disabled person is a democratic principle.

Sportschau: According to the Assembly Places ordinance, there would have to be around 7,400 wheelchair seats in the stadiums of the first and second Bundesliga. But there are only about 3,000. Tickets become a rare commodity when, for example, there are only 72 wheelchair spaces in Dortmund instead of the actually prescribed 425.

Dusel: It shows how far we are from inclusion. It would be best if we could, so to speak,esign for all‘could produce. So that people in wheelchairs are not dependent on sitting somewhere behind the gang, but that they have access wherever possible – in the VIP area as well as in the fan block. Where you want to go as a Fan.

It is very important that we realize that accessibility is the prerequisite for successful inclusion. It doesn’t work if I don’t get to the stadium pub with my wheelchair after the game, for example. Or when I am not able to exchange ideas during the game, because wheelchair users are sitting alone somewhere. So if there are no encounters, then what is so important for our society, namely togetherness, does not arise.

Sportschau: But this is precisely what is often emphasized as a great merit of football.

Dusel: I note that Germany applied for the women’s World Cup in 2027 and will host the men’s European Championship in 2024. Stadiums are also a poster child, a showcase for accessibility. Accessibility is a quality feature for a modern country. So I would like the women to become world champions and the men’s national team to become European champions. But that in the area of accessibility we are not just Circular.

Sportschau: For some time now, affected organizations have been complaining that the accessibility laws in Germany are based too much on volunteering, so they are not strict enough.

Dusel: We have unfortunately, in Germany there is still the Situation that we do not yet have the private providers of products and services (this also includes organizers such as the DFL and clubs, Ed. D.Ed.) commit to accessibility. A change in the law is now to be pushed. The Federal Disability Equality Act. And then the countries take over. So that for disabled people not only the way to the city hall is classically barrier-free, but people can also go to the cinema, Theater, Stadium. Because we are really not good in Germany compared to other countries.

Sportschau: The DFL has regulations for its game operation that go into great Detail. Anyone who does not fulfill these as a club does not receive a license. But with regard to the number of wheelchair spaces, it remains with recommendations from the DFL. How do you rate this?

Dusel: The DFL also applies: It is not an act of charity, but we live in a democracy in the Federal Republic of Germany. Everyone has the same right, no one is worth more than the other. Democracy and inclusion are basically two sides of the same coin. And you could say that if inclusion does not take place properly, then certain people also have a democracy problem.

So, I already expect the DFL and also the Bundesliga clubs to improve in this area. Not because this is an act of care, but people with disabilities are Fans like everyone else. It is a question of Fairplay that people with disabilities can naturally participate.

Sportschau: Especially since the DFL itself recognized in 2018 that the clubs would actually have to double their wheelchair spaces – with a view to socio-political and demographic development.

Dusel: We live in an aging society. And this is indeed a socially important question to ensure that the mobility-impaired grandfather can also come to play with the granddaughter. I think this is ultimately also a question of the quality of football and of the structures around football.

Sportschau: For EURO 2024, at the request of the European Football Union UEFA, 454 additional wheelchair spaces and 200 to 300 additional Easy-Access– Created places for Fans with reduced mobility. But they will be dismantled again at many locations after the tournament.

Dusel: I think of it as gaga. This is also almost cynical. To say we’re doing this now because we’re just being told from the outside – and then we’re building back again. It’s not sustainable, it’s not professional. And that’s why I expect that not to happen. I would be very surprised if clubs could really do that with a clear conscience.

Sportschau: In Dortmund, for example, 144 Rolli seats will be converted back to 72 during the EURO.  

Dusel: And that is why we also need legal regulations that prevent this. So we can not always rely only on voluntariness and insight. We need to change the legal framework, with reasonable transitional periods. This may not work out for the 2024/25 season. But you have to tackle it. Anyone who doesn’t have that on their screen these days is unprofessional. He’s doing a bad Job. No one, as stated in our basic law, may be disadvantaged because of a disability. If football fans in wheelchairs run into barriers, that’s not okay.

Sportschau: The Bundesliga clubs and the DFL always hold the flag of inclusion very high on special diversity matchdays and in Image campaigns. Why is reality lagging behind?

Dusel: Inclusion is done by many nowadays because it is fashionable. But it’s not about something fashionable about inclusion. It’s about something Democratic. And that is why it could be said: Not by words, by deeds you should recognize them. So on the one hand, it is of course good that, for example, children with disabilities can run up during football matches. But that is not enough, but the issue must be addressed structurally. And that means in concrete terms: creating access for people with disabilities. By what right do we hold on to a structure that actually excludes people?

Sportschau: The head of the Federal Office for accessibility, Volker Sieger, says: the associations are not responding for financial reasons either. Wheelchair spaces do not bring money.

Dusel: This must not be related to money, but to citizens, and they have the right to access. And if you don’t do that, it must actually have consequences for you. I personally believe that this must eventually lead to claims for damages if I, as a person with a disability, cannot participate. This is ultimately discrimination. This must be made clear to all those responsible in football.

The Interview was conducted by Matthias Wolf

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