"Played by millions of people across the globe..."
Perhaps the world’s best loved sport, Football is played by millions of people across the globe, whether just in the local park or a national stadium.
At the moment only Football 7-a-side for athletes with cerebral palsy and Football 5-a-side for athletes with a visual impairment are included in the Paralympic programme. However, there are also national teams for other classifications, including Amputee Football.
Football 7-a-side is open to ambulant male athletes with cerebral palsy, classified class 5 to class 8 depending on impairment level. The rules are the same as in the non-disabled game except that the pitch is slightly smaller, there is no offside rule, and throw-ins can only be made using one hand. Matches are played in two 30-minute halves with a 15-minute interval.
Football 5-a-side is open to athletes with a visual impairment. Although classification is broken down into classes – B3, B2, and B1 having the least vision – all players with the exception of the goalkeeper wear ‘black-out’ masks to ensure all participants can compete equally.
The goalkeeper for each 5-a-side team is fully-sighted and instructs his team. Along with the goalkeeper, there is an additional guide behind the opposition’s goal who can give the team instructions. A specially designed ball makes a noise when it moves, allowing the players to track it. As with the 7-a-side game, the field of play is smaller than in non-disabled football and there is no offside rule.
The 5-a-side match is played in two halves of 25 minutes each, with a 10-minute interval and the 7-a-side game is played in two halves of 30 minutes each.
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Additional information and useful links
History of Disability Football
History of Disability Football
Football-type games - where stones or similar objects were kicked around - have been around for thousands of years.
However, it is thought that the origins of the game we know today have their roots in Europe and in particular England between the 18th and 19th centuries.
Originally played on the streets, it was in English private schools that the rules were developed and the sport was turned into a structured team game.
The English FA, the first football association, was founded in 1863 and only eight years later had 50 member clubs. The first football competition – the FA Cup - was started less than 10 years later in 1871.
By 1912, 21 national associations had been set up and were affiliated to the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), which over the years rose to more than 200 members that still exist today.
There are several disability football teams run by the FA, including teams for amputee, learning disability and Deaf players. However, the only forms of the game currently included in the Paralympic program are 5-a-side football for visually impaired players and 7-a-side for athletes with cerebral palsy.
The 7-a-side game was introduced at the 1984 Games in New York and Stoke Mandeville. 5-a-side Football wasn’t included until much later, making its debut at the Games in Athens in 2004.