Rio 2016 Preview: Football-7-a-side

Brazil in action in London 2012 (Photo: Tom Page/WikimediaCommons)

Sport: Football 7-a-side

Events: One (Men only)

Classification: All athletes competing have cerebral palsy of different levels with classification ranging from C5-C8 with C5 the most severe and C8 the least. One class C5 or C6 player must be on the pitch at all times, only one C8 player is allowed on the field at a time.

Venue: Deodoro Olympic Park

Athlete Quota: 112 (eight teams)

International Federation: Cerebral Palsy International Sports and Recreation Association (CP-ISRA)

Defending Champions: Russia

Preview

Another sport where the absence of Russia will be felt, Football 7-a-side will be missing their defending Paralympic Champions. That would weaken the tournament, but it opened the door for Iran, who had no path to qualification, despite winning bronze in London, and so they have replaced Russia with another team that has a chance at a medal.

That leaves the path open for Ukraine, who won silver in 2012 and come in as the top ranked side in the world, the battle between Ukraine and Russia has been intense over the last four years. Ukraine come in as European Champions, but came second behind Russia at the World Championships making them favorites here in Rio.

With that said, hosts Brazil could well come up and surprise for the gold, with the backing of a strong home crowd who love football. Brazil will be the second highest ranked side at the Games and could benefit greatly from Russia’s absence.

The biggest improving side of the past four years has been the Netherlands who stunned Russia at the European Championships beating them in the semi-finals. That saw the Dutch finish second and currently sit fourth in the world, a potential shot at a medal.

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