The Sepp Herberger Foundation, which Schaffert also chairs, exists within the DFB to promote and organise handicap football in Germany and to give it a home in organised sport. Wheelchair, deaf and blind footballers as well as sheltered-workshop- and amputee players can all be found under its umbrella.
The lighthouse projects include the annual Football Inclusion Days, which will be held once again this year from 10 to 12 May at Roncalliplatz in Cologne, in addition to the German Football League for the Blind, which was founded in 2008 and is the only one of its kind in Europe. The UEFA EURO 2024 is also to be used for handicap football, Schaffert revealed in Hamburg: ‘We are planning so-called “inclusion days light” for all host cities in order to reach a wider audience.’
HSV President Jansen: Inclusion not a marketing tool
Professional football could provide a tailwind for more visibility in inclusive football. Marcell Jansen also agreed with this. In the panel discussion ‘The role of Inclusive Football from the Perspective of Professional Clubs, Companies and Associations’, the president of Hamburger SV admitted: ‘As a Bundesliga club, whether in the premier or first division, we could certainly go one better and, for example, increase visibility in the run-up to professional matches.’
In general, the topic of inclusion is becoming increasingly important within the clubs. For example, HSV has been offering amputee football since 2021 and recently included a match day in the West Curve Championship, the championship of HSV fans with over 60 teams. At the same time, however, Jansen warned against using the topic of inclusion for false advertising purposes. When asked whether inclusion contributes to the brand of a professional club, he answered clearly: ‘As a club, you have to have the basic conviction that you are committed to inclusion. This is not a marketing tool, but a self-image.’
A self-determined life for people with disabilities
Volkswagen has also taken up the cause of supporting football in all its diversity, from the grassroots to the top – and underpins this with various communication campaigns, among other things. For example, a social media series on the topic of integration was recently produced under the hashtag #einfußball about the football club Türkiyemspor Berlin 1978. This is exactly what it’s all about, said Sandra Waidelich, Head of Marketing & Sales Experience Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, during the SPOBIS round table: ‘It doesn’t matter whether they are people with or without disabilities, where they come from, what their sexual orientation is or what their religious beliefs are.’ Her company has ‘a social attitude and we want to convey this to the outside world’.