An adaptation of the world’s most popular sport, football 7-a-side joined the Paralympic programme at the New York and Stoke Mandeville (England) Games of 1984. Since then, the sport has grown and spread across the world.
Football 7-a-side was created in Edinburgh, Scotland, during the third edition of the Cerebral Palsy International Games in 1978. At the same event, the Cerebral Palsy International Sports and Recreation Association (CPISRA) was founded to manage the sport. The first world championship was held in 1982, in Denmark.
Football 7-a-side is only played by men with cerebral palsy caused by traumatic brain injury or stokes.
Players are assessed before competition and classified in classes from 5 to 8. The higher the class, the greater the athlete’s functional potential. To ensure that people of all classifications take part, a rule determines that at least one member from class 5 or 6 must be on the field throughout the match, and only one player may be class 8.
Another interesting aspect of the sport is that each participant is assigned to a role that is compatible with his capabilities. Some class 5 players, with bigger problems in their legs and greater limitations in their ability to pass and kick the ball, are often goalkeepers, for example.
The official rules are similar to those of the International Federation of Football Associations (FIFA), with adaptations to facilitate the game being played by people with cerebral palsy. These adaptations include having no offside rule, two halves of 30 minutes and throw-ins being allowed with one hand, so long as the ball is rolled and touches the floor immediately.
Football 7-a-side’s similarity to 11-a-side football has helped the sport gain popularity across the world and thanks to frequent revisions of the rules, people with more severe cases of cerebral palsy have a greater opportunity to play it.