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England fans assess disabled access at Russia World Cup

Football Fans arrive in Moscow For The world Cup Semi Finals

A video report by the BBC has shone a light on the measures being taken by Russian authorities to ensure there is ample disabled access for World Cup fans during the tournament.

One England fan who has travelled out for the tournament was shown negotiating public transport, which he was concerned about before arriving in Russia.

Paul Letters, who uses a mobility scooter, is seen in the report being assisted at a metro station and says: “I am impressed there are ramps…to get around the steps…and also into shopping centres.”

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Four metro workers assist Mr Letters to take him down the escalator. This service is free of charge and is supposed to be available on a regular basis.

But one disabled Russian fan described to the BBC how he had issues with accessibility before the World Cup.

Vladislav Fokin said: “I think it’s just a show for Europeans. In reality, accessibility in Russia is much worse than they’re trying to portray.”

Federico Addiechi, head of sustainability and diversity at FIFA, said that 22,222 special access tickets have been sold, which is a record for a FIFA World Cup.

“We have to unfortunately live with some of the infrastructure that’s existing in the host country. We cannot expect the World Cup to change a system which has been in place for over 100 years,” he said.

Mr Letters concluded: “It was all good, it was just really modern. Everything inside felt really modern. Ramps everywhere, people to help us, taking us in the lifts and then straight out to the seating area.”

The BBC said Russian authorities are trying hard to ensure good access for all fans during the World Cup. But it questioned whether the efforts will remain after the competition has finished.

There are an estimated 13m disabled people living in Russia and disabilities are often considered to be a taboo.

Russia recently signed the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and during the 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Sotchi, the government claimed it had taken positive steps.

The ‘Accessible Environment, 2011-2015’ directive is designed to improve the country’s infrastructure for disabled people.

Tags : croatiadisabled accessEnglandfifarussiaworld cupworld cup disabled access
Joe Peskett

The author Joe Peskett

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