Aim of the game
A five-a-side version of the world’s most popular sport adapted for the visually impaired, in which outfield players must wear eye shades and the ball makes a sound that players can follow. Two teams try to outscore each other and are directed by their coach, guide and goalkeeper (who are not visually impaired)
Why should you watch this?
The incredible balance and dribbling ability of the players, using every sense except sight to try to win, will amaze you
Throughout a match, fouls are cumulative, so after a team registers three fouls in any half, every subsequent foul is punished with a ‘double penalty’ and a direct shot from eight metres out
The word a player must say clearly and audibly when seeking to take possession of the ball or tackle an opponent
The goalkeeper, coach and guide (all of whom are non-visually impaired) can only provide orientation to the players when the ball enters their respective third of the pitch (defensive, midfield, attacking)
Impress your friends
The sport was created in Spain in the 1920s, but it wasn’t until 1986 that the country held its first national championships. In Brazil, football 5-a-side appeared in the 1960s
In 1998, the first world championships took place in Paulínia, in the Brazilian state of São Paulo, with the home team winning gold
The sport made its Paralympic debut at the Athens 2004 Games, four years after an exhibition game in Sydney first brought it to the committee’s shortlist of potential additions
At Athens 2004, Brazil and the Republic of Korea kicked off the first ever game of Paralympic 5-a-side football, with the South Americans winning 4-0
In the Beijing 2008 final between Brazil and China, the home team scored first but Brazil fought back to win 2-1 in an exciting game
Brazil are four-time world champions and three-time Paralympic champions (2004, 2008, 2012), while Argentina have silver and bronze Paralympic medals
Brazil’s Jeferson Gonçalves, better known as Jefinho, is probably the greatest ever player. His amazing ball control and dribbling have brought him two Paralympic golds
Brazil’s Ricardo Alves was voted best player at the last world championship, in Japan in 2014, where Brazil won its fourth championship
David Clarke was Great Britain’s torchbearer at the London 2012 Paralympic Games opening ceremony, having scored 128 goals in 144 games for his team, winning the European Golden Boot three times
The relatively small court, with the same measurements as for futsal, makes dribbling a very important skill in this version of the game
Football 5-a-side is incredibly free-flowing due to the scarcity of fouls awarded and the fact that the ball rarely goes out of play
Due to the importance of players being able to hear the ball, the crowd is asked to remain quiet during games and only cheer after a goal is scored
Matches last 50 minutes, divided into two halves of 25 minutes. In the knockout stage of the competition, if the scores are tied at the end of 50 minutes, a penalty shootout decides the winners.
Each team has four visually impaired outfield players who must wear eye shades for visual fairness. The goalkeeper cannot throw the ball beyond the halfway line, nor touch a teammate’s back-pass with his hands. Once the goalie has released the ball, his team has 15 seconds to cross the halfway line with it, otherwise they forfeit possession.
A device inside the ball helps orientate the players, and a player is not allowed to keep it still at his feet for more than four seconds. Each team also has three sighted ‘guides’ – including the goalkeeper – to shout instructions at the players.
The pitch measures 40m x 20m and features two penalty spots, one for regular penalties and one for cumulative fouls as of a team's fourth (see ‘30-second expert’).
The side walls are 1.2m high, meaning the ball cannot go out of play, ensuring a more continuous flow of the game.
Although the four outfield players are classified as B1 (the most severe level of impairment) they are still blindfolded to ensure fairness. The goalkeeper does not have a visual impairment.
Athletes & Teams
|16 - 20||6|
|21 - 25||32|
|26 - 30||38|
|31 - 40||20|