The summer of 2018 will be a festival of football as both the FIFA World Cup and the IBSA Blind Football World Championships kick off. So who should you be backing in the race to be crowned the best blind football team in the world? Here is the lowdown.
1. The seventh edition of the World Championships will take place in Madrid between 7 and 17 June. It will be the second time this competition is staged in Spain as Jerez de la Frontera celebrated the second edition in 2002.
2. Brazil have so far claimed four titles, including the last two in Hereford, Great Britain, in 2010, and in Tokyo, Japan, in 2014, while Argentina sealed the other two. The first edition was held in Campinas, Brazil, in 1998, with the hosts emerging as victors.
3. This is going to be the largest World Championships ever with 16 teams competing, four more than at Tokyo 2014. Apart from hosts Spain and defending champions Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, Russia*, England, France, Turkey, Costa Rica, China, Iran, Thailand, Morocco, Mali and an Oceanian/Asian team will participate.
4. Once again reigning Paralympic and world champions Brazil will start as strong favourite for gold, but Argentina will also present battle, especially after putting an end to their South American arch-rivals´ 57-winning streak at the 2017 American Championships.
5. It will also be interesting to see what other strong teams such as Paralympic silver medallists China, Iran and France, and European champions Russia have to offer.
More information is available on IBSA’s website.
*Editor's note: The International Paralympic Committee suspended the Russian Paralympic Committee on 7 August 2016 for its inability to fulfil its IPC membership responsibilities and obligations, in particular its obligation to comply with the IPC Anti-Doping Code and the World Anti-Doping Code (to which it is also a signatory). As a result of the suspension, Russian athletes cannot enter IPC sanctioned events or competitions, including the Paralympic Games.
On 6 September 2017, the IPC put in place a limited interim measure for athletes to compete as neutrals in qualification events across four World Para sports for the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games. These sports are alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country and snowboard.
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