Paralympic Sports A-Z: Football 5-a-side


Football 5-a-side made its Paralympic debut
at the Athens Games in 2004 and is open to blind athletes.
These are athletes without any vision or light perception
Rules are similar to the FIFA Futsal game with a few modifications.
There are five players on the pitch. The four outfield players are blind and use
eyepatches and eyeshades for fairness. The goalkeeper may be sighted.
The ball, with bells inside, makes noise when it moves, allowing the footballers to locate
it. Players are not allowed to keep it still at
their feet for more than four seconds. The crowd must also stay quiet until after
a goal is scored or the ball is out of play. Each team also has three sighted guides to
give instructions to the players when they enter their respective third of the pitch.
These are the goalkeeper in the defensive third, coach in midfield and another guide
in the attacking third. A match lasts 50 minutes, consisting of two
halves. If a match is drawn after extra time then like its 11-a-side version, penalties
may decide the outcome. The goalkeeper cannot throw the ball beyond
the halfway line in the air, or touch a teammate’s back pass with his hands.
A player must shout clearly and audibly when trying to take possession of the ball or tackle
an opponent. Most teams use the Spanish word “voy”.
Throughout the 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 8m out. There are no offside rules.
The field of play is the same size as for FIFA Futsal: 20m wide and 40m long.
The side walls are between 1m and 1.2m high, meaning the ball cannot go out of play and
ensuring a more continuous flow of the game. The goal is 3m wide and 2m high.
Blind football is mesmerising: the skill of the players astounding the crowd on every
occasion.

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