We aimed to explore how European football engages disabled people, on and off the field. A particular focus was placed upon management practices employed across regions. A mixed-methods, cross-sectional survey design guided this study, using questionnaires and interviews with National Associations and Licensed Clubs.
Engagement of disabled people through sport is a difficult but worthy challenge. UEFA have a good track record in playing, spectating and working opportunities. Results identified areas where respondents felt that performance did not match the importance. Room for improvement was identified and respondents noted general increase in resources to support these engagement activities.
Regional differences are clear, suggesting that pockets of excellence exist within the industry. Local context is a major factor in the quality of provision. Other factors include financial resources, human resources and competencies (developed through training). Organisations should not over-rely on certain individuals, a team approach is needed. It is paramount that organisations possess an inclusive philosophy.
European football is replete with best practice in its engagement opportunities for disabled people. Opportunities exist for enhanced provision and further research.