Sport Profiles, Football

Sport Summary:
There are two football events at the Paralympics: 7-a-side for athletes with Cerebral Palsy and 5-a-side for athletes with a vision impairment. Both forms of the game are run under International Federation of Associated Football (FIFA) rules, with slight modifications to accommodate Paralympic athletes.  

Paralympic Events (in Beijing 2008):
  • Football 7-a-side, 8 team tournament
  • Football 5-a-side, 6 team tournament

Rules & Equipment:
Football 7-a-side:
Pitch: The Football 7-a-Side field of play consists of a rectangular pitch, not more than 75 metres long and 55 metres wide and not less than 70 metres long by 50 metres wide. The preferred playing surface is natural grass, but some types of synthetic grass can be used. The goal posts are 5 x 2m. 

Ball: The ball is made of leather or special synthetic material and must conform to FIFA specification and quality suitable for the playing surface. 

Clothing: The athletes of a team must wear the same kit (uniform), which consists of a shirt, a pair of shorts and socks. Each goalkeeper must wear colours, which distinguish him from the other players, the referee and the assistant referees.  

Shin Pads: Special protective pads made of plastic or another soft material, such as rubber plastic or similar substances, which are placed inside the athlete's socks, mainly to protect his shins. 

Shoes: Special shoes that suit the surface being played on, to aid the athlete's movement on the playing surface. 

Goalkeeper's gloves: Optional gloves, which facilitate the goalkeeper in stopping the ball and preventing the scoring of a goal, whilst protecting his hands. 

Football 5-a-side:
The equipment used in 5-a-side is similar to 7-a-side, with the following exceptions: 

The Pitch: Football 5-a-Side is played on an uncovered pitch measuring 38-42m in length and 18-22m in width and covered in natural or synthetic grass. The pitch is clearly marked with the touchlines (along each side), the goal lines (at each end), a centre line, a centre circle (6m diameter) and the goalkeeper's area (5 x 2m). There is a marked penalty spot (at 6m from the goal) and double penalty spot (at 9m). The goal measures 3x2m. A wall 1-1.2m high surrounds the entire area, designed to avoid throw-ins and provide orientation for players. 

Ball: The official ball is made of leather or special synthetic material, has a diameter of 62cm and weighs between 490 and 520gr. It has an internal sound device so the athletes can hear it.  

Blindfolds or mask: The athletes who are inside the field of play, with the exception of the goalkeeper, wear blindfolds or a mask to guarantee equality among the players. Players may be charged with a penalty for touching their blindfold during the game.  

Football 7-a-side:
C5: This class consists of athletes who have difficulties when walking and running, but not in standing or when kicking the ball. Usually, a small shift in the central equilibrium of these athletes leads to the loss of balance.  

C6: This class consists of athletes with moderate to severe athetosis, ataxia or a combination of spasticity and athetosis involving all four limbs. C6 athletes usually have control and co-ordination problems of their upper limbs, especially when running.  

C7: This class consists of athletes with hemiplegia. The athletes usually walk with a limp and the arm or hand flexed on the affected side. The other side of the athlete's body usually functions well.  

C8: The C8 class consists of athletes with mild hemiplegia, diplegia or athetosis or monoplegia and must meet the eligibility criteria. Athletes in this class must have an obvious impairment that has impact on the sport of Football. 

At least one C5 or C6 class athlete per team must play throughout the match. If this is not possible, the team must play with six players.

Furthermore, no more than three players from category C8 are allowed to play at the same time.

Football 5-a-side:
B1: From no light perception in either eye to light perception, but inability to recognise the shape of a hand at any distance or in any direction. 

B2: From ability to recognise the shape of a hand to a visual acuity of 2/60 and/or visual field of less than 5 degrees. 

B3: From visual acuity above 2/60 to visual acuity of 6/60 and/or visual field of more than 5 degrees and less than 20 degrees. 

(NOTE: Not eligible - visual acuity over 6/60 and/or visual field of more than 20 degrees.) 

Goalkeepers may be sighted and in such cases, must not have been registered with FIFA in the last five years. 

Click here for a more detailed explanation of Football classification. 

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