Blind Football Europeans set to kick off

Hosts Germany face Italy in opening match of tournament in Berlin. 17 Aug 2017
Ali Pektas, member of Germany's football 5-a-side team

Ali Petkas (white shirt) is hoping Germany can make home advantage count at the European Championships.

ⒸRalf Kuckuck, DBS-Akademie

Hosts Germany will face Italy in Group A, in the opening match of the 2017 International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) Blind Football European Championships in Berlin, on 18 August.

Romania, England and France are the three other teams pitted in Group A, while defending European champions Turkey will be joined in Group B by Belgium, Georgia, Spain and Russia*.

“We are really excited, [it's] the tenth year of blind football in Germany and now we have the opportunity to show Europe that we have improved ourselves,” said German player Ali Pektas.

“The fact that we are going to play in front of our home crowd will push us forward and will motivate us to achieve our targets.”

German blind singer Joana Zimmer will perform at the Opening Ceremony. “I am very proud to have the chance to create the musical framework for such an extraordinary, ambitious and exciting event.

“While I wish all the teams good luck, I am especially touched by the opening match being Germany v. Italy. Since I lived in Italy for some time, it is easy for me to think musically in this direction.”

Group stage matches will run until 23 August. The semi-finals will be contested the following day. On 25 August, the matches for 9th-10th, 7th-8th and 5th-6th place will take place, with the medal games being held on the final day.

English head coach Jon Pugh added: “The standards of European teams are really rising. Any team in Europe could compete on the world stage.

“They’re all good teams in our group, and the other one really is a group of death – whoever gets out of that will really fancy their chances.”

All 27 matches will be streamed live, with two streams being made available – one with English commentary and one in German. The English stream will be available on the Paralympics YouTube channel and the Paralympics website.

A minimum of five cameras will be deployed at the venue, bringing all the action to the fans worldwide, including exclusive on-pitch interviews and post-match reactions from the mixed zone.

More information is available on Berlin 2017’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. For further information please click here.