Football and Disability: Research Into Race and Gender
Research is being undertaken into the experiences of disabled football supporters. The new research looks primarily at how female disabled supporters or those from an ethnic background experience attendance at professional football matches in England and Wales. The research will cover footballing culture in general and identify ways in which attitudes to disability does, or doesn’t reflect attitudes within wider society.
This new research is being undertaken by PhD student, Viji Kuppan. Viji is eager to establish the ways in which people who are in a ‘minority group within a minority group’ experience the matchday experience. Whilst his research and PhD has a fairly tight focus, his observations are already proving insightful. These will be included in his findings to provide the footballing authorities, academics and interested bodies, organisations or individuals with evidence about accessibility at grounds.
Viji’s studies are based at Leeds Beckett University, though he himself lives in the Midlands. He is eager to get input from clubs and supporters across the spectrum of the professional game in the UK. Viji accompanied ourselves to a match at Valley Parade, Bradford, yesterday as part of his research. His comments were insightful and as a neutral observer he identified a few things that perhaps ourselves, or our club’s Disability Organisation, may not have picked up on.
There are a number of national bodies that look at accessibility into football stadia. The FA have a committee dedicated to Disability. Level Playing Field is a national charity that focuses on accessibility at sporting venues. Viji’s research is a natural extension of this. While they tend to look at physical barriers to attending and enjoying matches, his research has the potential to identify social and cultural barriers to attending, enjoying and participating at matches.
As many supporters will know, legislation has come into place relating to accessible stadia. The odds are that your favourite team DOES NOT comply: only four do to date. Research of this type can help to make the match day experience better for all. It can also help to provide all clubs with hard evidence about the types of things that limit their appeal to specific markets.
Please pass details of Viji’s research areas to anybody who you feel may be able to assist him. That could be supporters who match his areas of research, or Disability Liaison Officers at football clubs.
To contact Viji, please leave a comment after this post. If you include your name, contact details and the team that you follow, we will pass those on to him.