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Ukraine became the first football team to book their spot at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games as they beat Netherlands 3-0 in the final of the European 7-a-side championship in Maia, Portugal, on Saturday (2 August). The Eastern Europeans, who won the silver medal at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, this time came out on top of the 11 teams in the tournament.
Football 7-a-side is played by athletes with cerebral palsy and has been in the Paralympic Games since 1984. The Games also have football 5-a-side, which is contested by players with a visual impairment, and whose qualification process will begin in November.
Ukraine, who lost to Russia in the final in London, were grateful to Volodymyr Antoniuk, Yevhen Zinoviev and Vitalii Romanchuk for scoring the goals against Netherlands. By finishing second, the Dutch also took a big step towards qualifying for Rio 2016. To confirm their spot, they need to finish in the top eight in next year’s world championship.
The European championship is one of four Rio 2016 qualifying competitions for 7-a-side football. The 2014 Asian Para Games, 2015 Parapan American Games and 2015 world championships will also offer places. As host nation, Brazil has a guaranteed spot.
Throughout 2014, athletes from at least 10 Olympic sports and 12 Paralympic sports will earn qualification places for the Rio 2016 Games. This week’s shooting world championships decided 63 spots, while four sitting volleyball and five goalball teams have also booked their places. Next week, the first wheelchair rugby team will confirm their place via their world championship.