2014 IBSA Goalball World Championships Preview

Hosts Finland’s men will be looking to add the World Championships gold to their Paralympic title, whilst Japan’s women will challenge China once more. 26 Jun 2014
Six men in training suits standing in a row, waving and celebrating

Finland won the gold medal in the London 2012 men's goalball competition


“The floor was very slow in London. It’s quite the opposite from what we have in Espoo: a hard and fast wooden floor."

Finland will be looking to succeed on home soil as they play host to the 2014 IBSA Goalball World Championships in Espoo from 26 June-6 July.

Expectations will be heavy for the men’s London 2012 Paralympic champions, but history is against them, with the host nation only winning the World Championship title once - USA in 1982.

Meanwhile in the women’s tournament, reigning world champions China will be looking to defend their title away from Paralympic champions Japan and the USA, who many feel could threaten.

The stakes are high heading into the tournament, as the top three nations will also be the first to book their place at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.


In the men’s tournament, Pool A looks like it will be a closely fought contest, with many of the big nations battling it out.

Hosts Finland have been drawn against two regional champions in Algeria – the current African champions and Iran – the Asia/Pacific champions.

They will also face the USA, Spain, Germany, Ukraine and Czech Republic - a side that has defeated the reigning Paralympic champions many times over recent years.

Meanwhile in Pool B, double defending world champions Lithuania will be favourites, but will also have a tough battle on their hands against the likes of Canada – the Americas regional champions, and Brazil - Paralympic finalists from two years ago.

Also looking to progress from this pool are Egypt, Belgium, Japan and China – Paralympic champions at the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games.

Speaking to the Organising Committee about his country’s chances of adding the World Championship title to their Paralympic gold, Finland’s star player Erkki Miinala said he expects some surprise results along the way.

He said: “Countries from Europe and North America used to be in charge in goalball but nowadays there are countries from Asia, South America and even from Africa that are capable of winning.

“In my opinion, Lithuania and Czech Republic have been the most impressive teams in men’s goalball lately. But Brazil, Iran, Algeria, Spain, USA and Turkey all have what it takes.”


In the women’s tournament, 12 teams will battle it out for the top prize, with the top four teams from each pool heading through to the quarter finals.

Pool X looks tricky, with Paralympic champions Japan being drawn against European champions Russia and Americas champions the USA.

They will also face hosts Finland, Germany and Turkey, who are competing at the World Championships for the first time.

Meanwhile in Pool Y, China will start their world championship defense against Isreal, Ukraine, Sweden, Australia and upcoming 2016 Paralympic hosts Brazil.

Finland’s Katja Heikkinen expects the conditions of the court to play a major factor for whoever is successful.

She said: “China is definitely a top contender in the World Championships. Japanese players are small but their defense is rock solid.

“The floor was very slow in London. It’s quite the opposite from what we have in Espoo: a hard and fast wooden floor. It benefits hard throwing teams such as China, USA, Turkey, Israel and us.”

Watch Live

The action getting underway from Monday (30 June) every day at 9.00am UTC, with every match from Sport Hall Tapiola (Hall A) in 2014 IBSA Goalball World Championships broadcasted live via the Finnish National Television (YLE) sport website.

Fans can access the correct stream on the YLE website by looking for the word “Maalipallo”.

For the full competition schedule and results, visit the official website of the 2014 IBSA Goalball World Championships in Espoo.