DAY 4 THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY IN ST ETIENNE

The good was the fabulous help we received on the short train journey between Lyons and St Etienne plus to/from the stadium. A group including the city authority and the St Etienne DSA had organised 4 accessible mini buses to shuttle disabled fans back and forth. At both ends they had people to meet you and offer whatever help you needed. I met Corinne from the DSA who hadn’t seen for nearly 6 years when last in St Etienne. When we arrived back at the railway station there were huge queues however the station staff were on the look out for any wheelchair users and guided us through the crowds straight onto the train.

The bad was the accessible facilities at the stadium which were a disgrace. Wheelchair fans from both countries playing and neutrals would have spent a lot of hard earned money getting to the game and deserved much better. Our entry gate was below the tier where our tickets were for but we had to walk to the other end of the stadium as there was only one lift which meant a long walk back again along the concourse to our seats. ItĀ  looked like they had removed a few seats from the back row to create wheelchair spacesĀ  and the view when people stood was non-existent. Incredibly on our tier there were no toilets so a wheelchair user had to trail along to the lift to get to the upper tier or ground level to find a toilet. As for the accessible toilets they were shocking consisting of a sink and a toilet bowl (which when we tried to use was blocked!)

The ugly of course was the flares thrown onto the pitch by a few Croatian fans protesting about a Croatian FA policy. The red shirted volunteer and the Croatian player could have been more seriously injured when one went off near them on the pitch. Croatians fans tried to point out the culprits however the riot police just stood and watched so a fight started. Croatian fans we spoke to were very unhappy with the small group who spoiled things and the police for not doing anything at all.

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