By Evie Andreou
DISABLED people are appealing to able-bodied fellow citizens to respect their right to watch football games in stadiums and not to take up specially reserved seats or parking spaces.
Demetris Lambrianides, chairman of the Paraplegics association (OPAK), joined up with members of the Muscular Dystrophy association (MDA), the head of GSP stadium and representatives of Omonia and APOEL football clubs to send the message to football fans to respect people in wheelchairs and not stand in front of them during matches.
Lambrianides said that many people with disabilities want to watch football games as well but the behaviour of other fans keeps them away and prevents them from enjoying equal treatment, especially now that important games are coming up and many people are expected to flood Nicosia’s GSP stadium.
“Able-bodied fans must behave more responsibly and respect the rights of Ddisabled people,” he said.
Stelios Stylianou, member of the MDA, said that disabled people need to be given special help to be able to participate in the celebration of football, either in European or local games.
“We strongly believe in the sensitivity and understanding of Cypriots,” he said.
GSP stadium’s general manager Phivos Constantinides added that there is a special section for disabled people with 25 seats for wheelchairs and 60 seats for their escorts and stressed the need for them to have the same access as the rest of the fans.
He also said that GSP has won praise from the Centre for Access to Football in Europe (CAFE) and he urged other stadiums to promote the same policies.
Former Omonia player Reiner Raufman and APOEL’s Nektarios Alexandrou also expressed their support and urged football fans to respond and behave responsibly.