Football 7-a-side at the Paralympic Games

Football 7-a-side first has been included in the Paralympic Games since 1984 in New York. The sport is open to athletes with cerebral palsy, and is quite similar to able-bodied football, with just a few modifications. Rather than 11 players in each team, there is 7. Every athlete in the competition is ranked between 5 and 8 according to their impairment, with 5 being the highest class of impairment. Every team must feature a certain number of players from each class, with at least one player from class 5 or 6.

Athletes in class 5 have difficulty in dynamic movements like turning and pivoting. They will see exertion have the most effect on their functionality, out of all the classes. The level of impairment increases with class number. Athletes in class 8 may appear to be able-bodied, but will experience tremors or small joint movements. This affects their game and leads to poor balance, co-ordination and hesitation.

The field and goalposts are much smaller in comparison to that in abled-bodied football. There is no off-side rule, and throw-ins must be taken with one hand in order to make it fair. Each game lasts 1 hour, with 30 minutes a half.

The competition is in a group round-robin format, the top two teams from each group will proceed to the knockout stages.

The most successful 7-a-side team has been the Netherlands. They won the title in 1988 and defended it until 1996.

Football 7-a-side has been dropped from the Paralympic program for Tokyo 2021.


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