The decision to bar clinically extremely vulnerable supporters from the Carabao Cup final is “direct discrimination”, according to a Tottenham disabled fans’ group.
Manchester City and Tottenham have each been allocated 2,000 tickets for the match on April 25, which is part of the Government-led Events Research Programme (ERP), a pilot scheme looking at how to get spectators safely into venues amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Details of ticketing and safety protocols for the match were announced on Tuesday, but the ERP does not allow for those classed as clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) or those living with them to attend.
SpursAbility said in a statement released to the PA news agency that it was extremely disappointed by the decision, and asked for it to be reviewed.
“A number of our members and supporters will fall into this [CEV] classification under recent Covid-19 guidance and have also endured long shielding periods,” the statement read.
“However, most of them will have had their first and second vaccinations and are at considerably lower risk than those who are yet to be vaccinated.
“Government guidance places those aged 70 or over at an equal or higher risk category yet there is no exclusion issue for anyone in these higher-risk groups.
“The policy adopted for this match is a direct discrimination toward many disabled supporters.
“Some of our supporters have been shielding for over 12 months and have seen this match as an opportunity to return to some form of normal lifestyle.
“The match is allowing only 8,000 spectators in an outdoor stadium with a capacity of 90,000 - less than nine per cent of its potential. Yet there is a choice to exclude a small group of supporters who would need to disclose their classification on a voluntary basis.
“At the moment a CEV person who has had the coronavirus and recovered and has subsequently received two vaccine doses is a considerably lesser risk compared with a 40-year-old who may well have unknown health issues. Is this fair and reasonable?
“We ask that this criteria in the Government led research programme for reopening live events to the general public be reviewed.
“Returning to live matches again is the lifeline needed by many disabled supporters to maintain their mental health after long periods of forced isolation, yet they are being precluded on outdated advice and a broad-brush approach open to abuse in so many ways.”
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has been approached for a response.
Ten sports governing bodies wrote to political leaders last week endorsing the use of a Covid certification system, under which entry to an event could be gained if proof of vaccination, a negative test or antibody immunity was provided.
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