FIFA has announced that three venues during the upcoming Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand will be fitted with Quiet Rooms, marking a first for the tournament.
The rooms, which will be made available for fans with sensory processing difficulties, will be introduced at Auckland’s Eden Park, Sydney’s Accor Stadium and Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium.
The rooms have been designed to create a comfortable and calming environment to help individuals regulate their sensory input and reduce sensory overload. They will offer a range of sensory equipment and resources, such as weighted blankets, noise-cancelling headphones and calming lighting.
Accor Stadium’s Quiet Room will be coordinated by former footballer Kaine Sheppard, who organises the rooms through his foundation. Fans will be able to access the rooms at the three stadiums by finding a member of the volunteer team, with no special ticket or payments required.
Sarai Bareman, FIFA’s chief women’s football officer, said: “Everyone deserves to enjoy the FIFA Women’s World Cup, regardless of their sensory needs. That’s why we’re excited about the offering of dedicated Quiet Rooms at Stadium Australia, Brisbane Stadium, and Eden Park, supporting fans who require the space, and their families, at what will be an inclusive and uniting tournament.”
Nick Sautner, chief executive of Eden Park, added: “We are thrilled that our new Quiet Room will be installed at Eden Park in time for the upcoming FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023.
“Having dedicated spaces and solutions, such as a Quiet Room that can help a person who finds crowds, noise and smell overwhelming, will enrich the Eden Park experience for everyone, and enable a group of people who may not have had the chance to attend live sport and entertainment events before.”
Sensory bags will be available at all 10 Women’s World Cup stadiums in Australia and New Zealand. The bags will include noise-cancelling headphones, fidget devices and emotive cards to support communication about feelings. The bags will be available during the game then returned so they can be sanitised and reused at future matches.
FIFA is also offering training to staff and volunteers so they are able to provide the best possible experience for fans with sensory needs.
The Women’s World Cup begins on Thursday as Eden Park hosts New Zealand vs Norway. The tournament will run until August 20.