2010 Stadia Does Disability Score?

Phew! This article nearly didn’t make it into the magazine, as we had to wait right up until the last moment to get this information from SADA (South African Disability Alliance).

It’s not really their fault, SADA had to get their own independent consultant to assess the stadia as there seemed to be some discrepancies, as is the norm when trying to get Universal Access into society these days.

There seems to be a lack of political will from the Local Organising Committee, and most host cities, to deliver an equitable package which will satisfy the needs of people with disabilities attending the tournament. FIFA has developed acceptable guide lines for the world cup but these have been compromised by the LOC.

The Disability Alliance is doing all they can to rectify this and hopefully we will be able to have some accessible facilities, even if they don’t meet all of our needs. This will be an ongoing task, as some stadia are not yet complete, and so comprehensive reports cannot be made available.

The stadia that have been visited and assessed all seem plagued by the same short comings:

The signage is bad and in most cases has the wrong colours or difficult contrasts. The use of the international symbol for access has not always been used.The access routes have floor surfaces that do not comply – such as gratings with large holes in the Cape Town stadium and cobbled pavers at Mbombela. Some routes are extremely long – a whole 1.5km at the Durban stadium.

Most have turnstiles instead of flap gates. Those with flap gates have them linked to an auto opening system, which means less independence for spectators.

The seating is not raked at enough of an angle to permit wheelchair users to see the pitch if spectators in front of them stand up during the game.

The accessible toilets are the correct size, but the internal layout is incorrect. Layouts were supplied to spec but when the contractors got going they put their own ideas into play: “Why place a toilet, basin and towel dispenser in one corner? Lets spread them around the cubicle!” thus removing the ability for us to reach the basin whilst sitting on the toilet.

And then we get to the parking! According to Building Regulations, if the public transport system is accessible then accessible parking should be provided for 60% of accessible seating allocations and if the transport system is not accessible, then parking for 80% of allocations should be provided. In the case of Cape Town’s Green Point Stadium, where there is no public transport, there should be 272 (340 X 80%) accessible parking bays , but they have only 20! Most other stadia have not completed their parking areas, so figures come from their plans, but we know what is going to transpire! (At present there doesn’t seem to be any accessible transport systems in place anywhere - but more on that in the next issue).

The table shows the figures (obtained from MATCH) essentially showing how many tickets for people with disabilities have been sold (but with no checks as to whether these seats were actually sold to people with disabilities).

So, we have some facilities at the stadia, and we may or may not be able to get parking, but all of this is useless unless we have the tickets to get in. How do you purchase tickets if you are a person who requires accessible seating?

From 9 February 2010 to 7 April 2010 we will be in the fourth ticketing sales phase. 400,000 tickets will be available on a first-come, first-served basis (local and international spectators) on the www.fifa.com/2010 website whereas South Africans will also be able to lay their money on the counter of any First National Bank branch and immediately receive their tickets.

Soccer City Stadium, host of the opening ceremony, opening game and cup final is now complete

I have found the FIFA website difficult to use. It was almost impossible to understand what was required of me when making an application. In my opinion, the website is not user friendly and neither is the application process. Once I had figured the whole process out and registered I arrived at a page and was instructed to click on a link for tickets for wheelchair users. The link was not active and I could not find any other way of accessing the required page! I was stumped! If anyone has successfully purchased tickets over the internet, please let me know so that I can forward the info on to other readers.

Nelspruit’s Mbombela Stadium (siSwati for “many people together in a small space”) near the Kruger National Park is also complete and, like the Peter Mokhaba stadium in Polokwane, has provided far more seating for people with disabilities than required by FIFA.

On 15 April 2010 sales shift into top gear with ticketing centres opening up in the host cities (Jo’burg will have two) enabling fans to collect their confirmed tickets and buy more tickets over the counter, if there are any left by then!During this time international and local ticketing call centres will be open to assist fans with enquiries and applications.

The international hotline number is, whereas fans based in South Africa should call 083-123-2010.If you are one of the lucky ones and own one or more of the over two million tickets sold to date, your trip to the match will require some serious planning and a helper on the day.

The QuadPara Association of South Africa (QASA) is in the process of launching a helpline for people with mobility impairments. For all of your South African related accessibility answers!

In the meantime – happy 2010 travels.


Columnist Photos