How it all began

Football 7-a-side, an adaptation of Olympic football for players with cerebral palsy and similar impairments (traumatic brain injury or stroke sequelae), debuted at the 1984 New York/Stoke Mandeville Paralympic Games and has been featured in all editions since.

About the competition

There are many differences between Olympic and 7-a-side football. As the name says, there are only seven players on each team on the pitch – in addition to seven on the bench. There is no offside rule, and throw-ins can be completed with one hand, rolling the ball onto the playing field. Matches last 60 minutes, divided into two 30-minute halves, with a 15-minute interval between them. Pitch measurements are smaller than those of Olympic football: 75m x 55m. The players are ranked according to their degree of physical impairment. The scale ranges from 5 to 8 – the lower the class, the greater the limitation. Each team must have at least one class 5 or 6 athlete, and no more than one class 8 athlete on the pitch. Goalkeepers are usually class 5 or 6 players, since they are the most limited in terms of dexterity.

Did you know?

Brazil won the bronze medal at the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games and the silver at Athens 2004, but has never won a gold medal in 7-a-side football. The most successful country is the Netherlands, with three golds (Seoul 1988, Barcelona 1992 and Atlanta 1996), followed by Russia (Sydney 2000 and London 2012), and Ukraine (Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008).