Rules and Classification
What is it?
5-a-side football is a type of football played on a smaller pitch, with smaller goals, and a shorter duration. Generally the rules are similar to 11-a-side football, but with adaptations for athletes with a disability.
Who can participate in 5-a-side football at the Paralympics?
5-a-side football is open to visually impaired athletes.
Classification B1 (totally blind) only
How is it played?
- Games are played between two teams, each with four outfield players and a goalkeeper.
- The outfield players are visually impaired, but the goalkeeper may be fully or partially sighted.
- All outfield players wear eyeshades, which make it impossible to see, and mean that players with different degrees of visual disability can compete together.
- The ball contains a noise-making device - a bell. This allows the athletes to hear the ball.
- Teams may use one guide, who is positioned off the field of play, to assist in directing players.
- The pitch is surrounded with a rebound wall.
- There are no throw-ins and no offside rule.
- Each half lasts 30 minutes.
I’d like to see Messi do that!
FC Barcelona’s Messi, Xavi and Iniesta are three of the best football players in the world. If you watch or listen to one of Barcelona’s games, you will hear things like:
“…Xavi catches sight of Iniesta on the left … he sees Messi … Messi goes round two defenders … goal!”
“… Xavi looks up … spots Messi … the pass is inch perfect … goal!”
“That was brilliant! Messi observed the goalkeeper off his line, set his sights, and the shot was perfect into the top corner.”
Notice the verbs in bold. They are all verbs of ‘seeing’. The three great players work so well together because they are always looking to see where the others are.
Commentators also often claim that they could perform their ‘tricks’ “with their eyes closed”, “blindfolded” or “without looking”.
But despite what they say, there’s no way that Messi and company could play the same if they really couldn’t see. And yet that’s exactly what Paralympic 5-a-side footballers do every time they take to the field! Without being able to see anything, they pass the ball to each other and score goals in the same way as sighted players! I’d like to see Messi do that!