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‘Heartbreak’ for Wick family as autistic son loses out on Euros mascot spot

Liam Bremner Arevalo was selected to walk out with Scotland at the tournament but never made it on to the pitch.

Liam Bremner Arevalo dressed in a blue and yellow top standing in front of outdoor stairs.
Liam Bremner Arevalo was chosen as one of 22 mascots to accompany the Scotland team onto the pitch during their opening game in Germany. Image: Christopher Bremner.

A Highland family have hit out at Uefa for their lack of inclusivity after their autistic son lost out on being a Euro 2024 mascot.

Christopher Bremner, 35, and his wife Carla Arevalo, 36, were thrilled when their son Liam Bremner Arevalo was selected to march Scotland onto the pitch at their opening match against Germany.

The experience was set to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the Wick six-year-old.

However, just days before touching down in Germany, organisers pulled the plug.

Lews holding a tablet in a black and white tablet cover alongside his father, standing in a bus shelter wearing Scotland football tops.
Liam, 6, and his father Christopher Bremner travelled to Germany for Scotland’s opening game. Image: Christopher Bremner.

The decision arose after Christopher applied for access to support his son – who is non-verbal and wears nappies – in the hours leading up to the game.

The family were given a copy of the itinerary, seven days before kick-off, stating Liam had to be at Allianz Area in Munich from 2.30pm on the match day.

Worried it would be too much for him, Christopher approached the team, prompting a request to Uefa for him to accompany his son on the day.

Ultimately, their request was denied on security grounds, robbing Liam of the unique opportunity.

Family heartbroken as young Liam loses out on Euros mascot spot

Speaking to the Press and Journal, Christopher said it was a crushing blow to all the family.

He said: “They were only going to have four chaperons for 22 kids and the chaperons weren’t allowed to do really anything with the kids.

“They went back and spoke to Uefa but two days before we were flying out, they got back and said Uefa had denied the request to have me in the stadium.

“They said it was the opening game and there were security concerns.

Lewis dressed in a blue and yellow top with brown hair in the stand.
Liam thoroughly enjoyed watching his first live football game from the sidelines despite being axed from the mascot line-up. Image: Christopher Bremner.

“It felt like they didn’t want to try and help. All they had to do was allow me to be there and all of Liam’s needs could be met. I could deal with Liam and he could have gone out and been a mascot

“Liam didn’t really understand too much – he’s only six – but it was more for me and my wife and the family to see him walk out. Quite often he’s excluded from a lot of things and underestimated and that was quite disappointing for us.”

Liam was picked from the thousands of hopefuls competing for their chance to lead the team in their Euro debut.

The experience was made possible through Lidl’s Kids Team programme, a campaign to give children the chance to be an official UEFA EURO 2024 player escort.

Father and son enjoy opening Euros match from the stands

Despite their disappointment, Christopher and Liam were still able to enjoy the match from the sidelines, as Germany beat Scotland 5-1.

Liam also got to wear the football strip he would have worn as a mascot during the game.

Christopher, pictured with Lewis, wearing football tops in the stands in Germany.
Christopher, pictured with Liam at the game, said it was heartbreaking that Liam wasn’t able to lead the team onto the pitch ahead of the game. Image: Christopher Bremner.

Christopher added: “For me, it was a little heartbreaking that he wasn’t getting to be a mascot, but he was still there with me and we got to enjoy the game.

“It was also the first time I’d got to take him to a game as we’re never sure with his autism how’s he going to deal with it.

“With a lot of autistic kids, the noise can be overwhelming for them but he loved it.

“He loved the flights, the city, the underground, the game and being in the stadium, but not getting to be a mascot was quite gutting for all of us.”

Anger over Euros mascot decision

Christopher admits he was left angry upon touching down in Germany as he discovered a new mascot had been cleared; just 48 hours ahead of kick-off.

He said: “I was annoyed and upset that my son wasn’t getting to do it and then I was even more annoyed when I found out they were able to have a replacement in place in that time. They annoyed me a bit more because it feels like they just didn’t want to give me clearance whereas they could give clearance to someone else.”

Lewis dressed in a yellow and blue top in front of a large white dome arena in Munich, Germany.
The family have complained to UEFA. – from the line-up. Image: Christopher Bremner.

The family have now lodged a complaint with the Uefa bosses criticising their lack of inclusivity.

“I have put in an official complaint to Uefa stating you have on our website that you are diverse and inclusive, but it is all a gesture. They do not really care about it because they didn’t care about having my son as a mascot.

UEfa apologise for ‘disappointment’

Uefa bosses have today apologised to Liam’s family for the disappointment they’ve endured.

In a statement, they confirmed security clearance and special access for Liam’s father could not be obtained in the days leading up the match.

A spokesperson said: “Uefa and Lidl, our partner responsible for the player mascot programme at Uefa EURO 2024, know how important it is to provide any children with special educational needs or disabilities with the right support during a busy football match, which is why all parents are asked to indicate and request any accessibility requirements at the registration stage.

“Unfortunately, no information was provided at this stage that Liam needs to be accompanied by his father pitch side and the operational venue team in Munich only became aware of this a few days before the match.

“Due to the short notice, it was not possible to arrange special access and security clearance for Liam’s father as this process takes time and could not be completed ahead of the game.”

They added: “The Uefa and Lidl venue team knew how disappointing this would be for Liam and his father, and after liaising with his father on appropriate next steps, match tickets for the opening game were arranged and the father and son’s flights and accommodation in Germany for two nights were covered.

“We strive to always be an inclusive organization. We are sorry that on this occasion it was not possible to get the necessary clearances in time to allow Liam’s father to be present with him pitch side, which we understood was necessary for him to participate as a mascot/in our Lidl Kids Team.”