Blind soccer can be played by people who are sighted or visually impaired. During the game, players who have some vision must wear eye shields, making it so they can’t see. The game is usually played on a smaller field than traditional soccer. Brazil is recognized as having the world’s best blind soccer team, though increasingly more programs have been popping up in the U.S.
Blind soccer, also known as 5-a-side soccer or football 5-a-side, is an adaptation of soccer for athletes with a vision impairment. The sport has been governed by the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) since 1996 and it is played with modified FIFA rules. Blind soccer debuted at the Paralympic Games for the first time at the Athens 2004 Paralympics and has been contested at every Games since. Blind soccer is played in 60 countries and has become the fastest-growing Paralympic sport in the world.
How the Game Works
Blind soccer teams are made up of four outfield players and one goalkeeper. Outfield players are visually impaired which means they are completely blind, have very low visual acuity, and/or no light perception, whilst the goalkeeper must be sighted or partially sighted. To ensure fair competition, all outfield players must wear eyeshades. Teams can also have off-field guides to assist them.
The ball makes a noise due to a sound system located inside that helps players orient themselves. Before attempting to tackle, players must shout the word ‘voy’ so that the person they are attempting to tackle is aware. This is designed to prevent injuries wherever possible. Players committing five fouls during one game are disqualified from the game. Spectators must remain silent while watching the game until a goal is scored.
Blind soccer is played on a rectangular field that measures 40m long and 20m wide. The whole length of the pitch is covered by kickboards to prevent the ball from going out of play. The goals are 3.66m wide and 2.14m high. The duration of the match is 40 minutes, divided into two 20-minute halves plus 10 minutes for half-time. Each team can request a one-minute timeout during each half. During the last two minutes of both halves, and in case of extra time, the timekeeper must stop the clock for a free-kick, kick-in, goal kick, and corner kick.