A "leading disability charity" said that EPL clubs are "discriminating against their own fans," according to Katie Gornall of the BBC. A BBC study found that "only three top-flight stadiums currently provide the required number of wheelchair spaces." Of the 20 clubs in the Premier League, "eight fail to offer even half of what they should under national guidelines -- a situation that has remained largely unchanged for more than five years." Level Playing Field Chair Joyce Cook called for "radical change, claiming football has become 'stuck' on the subject of disability." Cook: "It's hard to get tickets, specifically for away games and especially for wheelchair users. When you get there, the sight lines can be pretty grim and it can be quite a miserable experience." The EPL "insisted it was working hard to accommodate disabled supporters." Arsenal fan and wheelchair user Anthony Joy, however, said that "guidelines on disabled facilities were not being adhered to 'in any way, shape or form'" (BBC, 3/18).
Sweden's Friends Arena, which opened its doors in '12 but "has been plagued by problems, is set to be run" by French company Lagardére, according to Philip O'Connor of REUTERS. The owners of the Sweden Arena Management company, "which includes the Swedish Football Association (SvFF)," are negotiating with Lagardére Unlimited Stadium Solutions, which is "expected to take over the running of the arena" in '15. The arena has been a "huge economic burden on the SvFF," losing $32M in '13, with "everything from the pitch to stadium access criticised." The home ground of local Allsvenskan club AIK, the arena has also "hosted concerts, including Bruce Springsteen," but football and music fans "have complained about the sound quality in the arena" (REUTERS, 3/18).
The five football stadiums in Salvador, Brasilia, Belo Horizonte, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro will "host football games during the 2016 Rio Olympics," according to AS. Brazil's LOC announced the news at the "IOC's Coordinating Committee meeting, which is being held in Rio through Friday." Each of the five stadiums "has been remodeled to host World Cup matches this summer." The committee also announced that test matches ahead of the Olympics will be held from June '15-May '16. The Rio Olympics will start Aug. 5, 2016, launching the "first Olympics ever held in South America" (AS, 3/19).
The Johor FA has unveiled its "new state-of-the-art fitness centre" at Padang Seri Gelam in Malaysia. The RM 3M ($910,000) fitness center is located at Super League side Johor Darul Ta'zim's training ground (THE STAR, 3/20). ... Serie A side Catania said that club President Antonino Pulvirenti "has closed a deal to buy a plot of land specifically for the development of a new stadium" (FOOTBALL ITALIA, 3/20).