The European Blind football Championship has had their match draw set as the IBSA Football Committee made the draw on Friday afternoon for the event in Berlin which starts in August.
There will be just one match on the first day of competition as the hosts Germany opens the tournament against Italy. The Germans will go in to that match as the favourites, and are in as one of the favourites for the whole tournament.
The first ever women’s blind football tournament was held in Austria this weekend and Japan claimed the win in an historic weekend for 5-a-side football.
Japan won the title by beating an IBSA select team, essentially a European all-stars team as they managed the lone goal in the match. That came through their star Kimushima who scored in the second half, her sixth goal in four matches.
The tournament was played over the weekend in a round-robin with Japan and IBSA Select competing against hybrid teams from across Europe. England/Greece and Russia/Canada made up the rest of the field after a memorable weekend for blind football.
The third place match was between the two hybrid squads, and in a rare football moment, England won a penalty shootout. After a scoreless draw England/Greece defeated Russia/Canada 1-0 on penalties to claim third place.
Japan came through the whole tournament without conceding a single goal, they were always the favourites going in to the tournament. The other teams had never played together until Thursday so the IBSA select giving Japan such a tight match is impressive.
Capping a training camp, the tournament served as the first step in a development plan for IBSA to develop women’s blind football. Currently only men’s blind football is a Paralympic sport and this camp could be the first step to seeing women’s football added.
60 women participated in the first ever IBSA women’s football camp with players from as far as Mexico making the trip to Austria. UEFA’s support helped to fund the project which has begun the process of women’s blind football development.
Romania has won the Blind Football European Second Division in their home
tournament to send them to the European Championships high on confidence after claiming the win on Saturday.
The final was won 1-0 by Romania in an entertaining match against Georgia to cap a phenomenal performance for the team. The only goal of the match was scored by Botez, who had a good tournament throughout, deserving the tournament winning goal. Both sides will now compete in the European Championship later in the year.
In the other major match on the final day of play saw Greece claim the third place medals as they cruised past the Czech Republic. It was a phenomenally entertaining match but eventually Greece came away 5-2 winners.
Fifth place was claimed by Albania in what was a tight match between Albania and Ireland with the Albanians winning 1-0. Dervishi scored the winning goal, and created history for his side, as they won their first ever match.
Semi-finals were played in Bacau on Friday with Romania and Georgia the winners in two matches with very different stories. Romania cruised through to the final by defeating the Czech Republic 4-1 with Kovacs scoring all four goals in one of the best performances in the whole tournament.
The other semi-final was an absolute nail-biter as Georgia and the Czech Republic couldn’t be separated in a tight match that ended scoreless. Weather conditions made the match difficult for both sides, and for spectators, but in the end Georgia nailed their penalty, enough to get the win and advance to the final.
Bacau was a phenomenal host of the tournament, the first division two tournament, which was regarded as a big success, reflecting the growth of the sport.
Romania will be hosting its first International Blind Football Federation (IBSA) international tournament in April. IBSA announced on Saturday that Bacau, Romania would be hosting the Blind Football European Qualifier and Division 2 Championships from April 1st to 9th.
The top two teams in the competition will advance to the European Championship in summer, which will be held in Berlin, Germany. Teams will be given all accommodation, hotels, meals and transport encouraging teams to join.
All European IBSA member countries who have not already qualified for the European Championship are eligible to enter. Those countries that are not eligible are Turkey, Spain, Great Britain, Russia, France, Germany, Italy, and Belgium who are all already qualified.
The event will double as the European Division 2 Championship, this will be the first ever time that IBSA is hosting a Division 2 Championship. That decision reflects the growth of blind football in Europe and will expand the European Championships to 10 teams.
Currently there is no number set of the teams that are allowed to compete in the event, with IBSA suggesting that it is open to whatever number of teams apply. It remains to be seen how many teams that will be but IBSA has focused on growing the sport in European countries that do not have strongly established teams.
The event will be hosted by TNT Club Sport, which will be also providing the accommodation for the competing teams. The matches will be host at an all-new all-purpose sports centre making this the first major event at the venue in the north east of the country.
The qualification path for the 2017 IBSA Blind Football European Championships has been outlined for the tournament in Berlin next year. Ten teams will take part in the tournament next August with the first eight places already decided IBSA announced on Monday.
The first eight qualifying places will go to the top eight teams from the European Championships held in Hereford in 2015. That will see Turkey, Russia, Spain, Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and Belgium all qualify automatically for the tournament.
The two teams that miss out from the 2015 tournament are Portugal and Greece and both will now have to go through a qualifying tournament. That qualifying tournament will award the final two places in the European Championships for 2017.
That tournament will be open to the two 2015 teams along with any IBSA affiliated team that meets the relevant criteria. Presumably one of those criteria is being a European nation, although it would not be unheard of for a non-European team to compete to make the tournament stronger, Australia played in the CP Football European Championship recently for instance.
That tournament is tentatively scheduled for April 2017, three months ahead of the final tournament that this qualifying tournament will finalize. The tournament host will be announced on the first of December, with the teams required to have expressed their interest in participating by the 15th of November.
Classification: Football-5-a-side is for visually impaired athletes, with a sighted goalkeeper. The four outfield players wear blindfolds. A coach stands behind the goal and taps the edges of the goal to assist players in finding the goal. The ball also contains a device which makes a noise so players can find the ball.
Venue: Olympic Tennis Center
Athlete Quota: 96 (Eight teams)
International Federation: International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA)
Defending Champions: Brazil (2004, 2008, 2012)
One word. Brazil. Sure, you’re not allowed to use it as a ‘word’ in Scrabble, but that’s the main thing fans will be hearing about football-5-a-side as Brazil enters the tournament as the three time defending Paralympic Champions, making them the only team to have won a Paralympic gold medal, and now coming in as hosts they are overwhelming favourites for the event.
In fact only twice has Brazil dropped a major tournament in blind football, the 2004 and 2006 world championships, which both went to Argentina. The local rivals of Brazil will no doubt be very eager to defeat their biggest rivals in their home country.
Argentina were beat in the bronze medal match in London by Spain, who return again after a strong performance in the European Championships. The Spanish should advance in Rio, but they will face stern competition to make it back on to the podium.
The defending silver medallists, France, failed to qualify for Rio after being shocked in the European Championship. That brings in Turkey, having their best form of all time, as European Champions and if their form holds up will be a strong chance at a medal.
Group A contains all four continental champions in Brazil, Iran, Morrocco and Turkey; Group B is led by Argentina and also contains China, Mexico and Spain.
With the Rio Paralympics fast approaching, the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) has revealed the final football world rankings ahead of the tournament. Unsurprisingly, it’s the hosts and defending champions Brazil that sit atop the rankings which were released on Tuesday.
Brazil also currently holds the world championship and has never lost at the Paralympic Games after the introduction of the sport in 2004. The Brazilians have won every major tournament in the sport since 2007 and will be going in as heavy favourites in Rio.
Behind Brazil is Argentina, again an unsurprising ranking given how many times Argentina has appeared in big matches against Brazil. Argentina will be desperate for revenge against Brazil, who they lost to at the 2014 World Championship and 2015 Parapan American Games finals.
The two other medallists in London are the highest ranked European teams as Spain was ranked third and France was ranked fifth. Despite that, neither side will be heading to Rio after failing in the European Championships.
In between the two Europeans is China, the highest ranked Asians at fourth after they won the Asian title. The top ten is rounded out by Turkey, Japan, Great Britain, Iran and South Korea; in that order.
The other teams that have qualified for Rio are African Champions, Morocco, Russia, and North American Champions, Mexico.