Football has become the cultural phenomenon of the masses, generating emotions, both in those who practice it and in those who enjoy it as spectators. Visually imapired athletes are not indifferent to all this, and so have converted football into one of their most deeply rooted sporting options. Their adaptation of football is known as Football 5-a-side and played indoors.
Football 5-a-side offers a more dynamic game due to its reduced dimensions and the walls, which permit a flowing game without interruptions. The game is open to athletes with a visual impairment, with the possibility of one sighted player as goalkeeper. There are five players per team and each game lasts 50 minutes which is divided into two 25 minute halves with a 10 minute half-time between them. Rules are the same as Olympic football with certain modifications; the ball makes a noise when it moves, the goalkeepers may be sighted and act as guides during the game, the rest of the team uses eye patches and eyeshades. There are five players on a team rather than 11; the field of play measurements are smaller and there is no offside rule. The Football Subcommittee of the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) governs this sport, following modified rules of the International Federation of Associated Football (FIFA). It is practiced by athletes in 21 countries.
There has been a rapid development of Football 5-a-Side around the world. The first National Championships took place in Spain in 1986. Since then, the sport has been adopted in many countries. The Athens 2004 Paralympic Games constituted a landmark for Football 5-a-Side, since the sport was included for the first time on the Paralympic competition programme.
Three world championships of Blind Football have been held so far. The first was in Campinas in Brazil in 1998, in 2002 in Lombardia in Italy where Belarus triumphed and more recently in 2004 at Manchester UK.
Every football match is played between two teams with four blind athletes and one sighted, or visually impaired goalkeeper on the field. There are five substitutes. Additionally, each team has a guide behind the opponent's goal to direct the players when they shoot.
The ball is passed between team members with the objective of kicking it into the goal area. The opposition team attempts to prevent them from scoring. Only the goalkeeper may use their hands to play the ball. As the pitch is surrounded with a wall, there are no throw-ins, which creates a flowing and fast-paced game. The winning team is the one that scores the most goals during a match. In the case of a draw, the winner is decided using a penalty kick procedure.
A referee and an assistant referee on the sidelines monitor the game. Penalties are awarded if a player touches their eyeshade, if the goalkeeper steps outside their area or if a player kicks or pushes an opponent.
Calendar of main competitive events
5th BRA-IBSA National Football Tournament for the Blind in New Delhi from May 4 to 9, 2009
IBSA Football Subcommittee President
Federación Española de Deportes de Ciegos
Paseo de la Habana, 208
Phone : + 34 91 353 61 61
Fax: + 34 91 353 61 79