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Northern Ireland Euro 2016: 'Was I discriminated against because I'm disabled? Everyone in my club got tickets'

By Allan Preston

Published 13/02/2016

Alex McKee in his home in Newtownabbey
Alex McKee in his home in Newtownabbey
Alex McKee in his home in Newtownabbey

A disabled Northern Ireland football fan who saw his first game in 1957 has demanded to know why he is the only member of his club not to get a ticket to see his team play in Euro 2016.

Alex McKee (67), from Newtownabbey, said he had 22 loyalty points, but out of the 17 other members of the Ligoniel Northern Ireland Supporters Club he was the only one left empty-handed.

"We all applied on the same day for the tickets," he told the Belfast Telegraph.

"Because I'm partially disabled I applied for easy access - if you apply for easy access your carer gets a ticket free. But that's not why I applied, it's because I have walking problems."

Alex applied for all three games for himself, his wife and his son.

"I had 22 points, I am the only one in the club that didn't get a ticket. Some of them got one out of two, some got three out of four. Another guy is taking his wife, he has 22 points as well, he got tickets for every game."

He asked: "Am I being discriminated against? I'm the only one in my club that's disabled and everybody got a ticket of some sort. These are questions that I need to know answers to."

Mr McKee said he had emailed the IFA asking how many disabled Northern Ireland fans had been successful in getting tickets.

He said that he would be applying for some of the 1,267 extra tickets made available by Uefa and the IFA for the Poland game.

"Now they're saying they're bringing out these extra tickets for the Poland game. I can apply for that but it's a grade that doesn't have easy access," he said. "I'll get in somewhere because I know my friend will swap with me to give me easy access seats. That's not the point, though."

Mr McKee said he had emailed the IFA for answers to his questions. A further request for answers was also sent by this newspaper, but, as yet, there has been no reply. Another Northern Ireland fan, Faith Seaton, had contacted the Belfast Telegraph after she was unable to get tickets for her disabled nephew.

She said she had spoken to the IFA on Thursday, who advised her that disabled applications were turned down as Uefa hadn't accepted blue badges as proof of disability. She added that the IFA had said it was working with Uefa as there were still some disabled seats which hadn't been allocated.

On Thursday IFA chief executive Patrick Nelson said: "I would like to thank Northern Ireland fans for their understanding over the past few days.

"With 50,000 applications for 30,000 tickets there will still inevitably be supporters who will be disappointed. However, the number one aim of the Irish Football Association throughout this process has been to reward those fans that have backed the team, both home and away, with priority access to tickets."

He said that he hoped the extra allocation of tickets for the Poland game "will further help us deliver on that aim, and I would like to thank Uefa for their help throughout this ongoing process".

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