Football 5-a-side will make its fourth Paralympic appearance at Rio 2016, where Brazil will be the strong favourite for gold but will face stiff competition from 2014 World Championships’ runners-up Argentina, European champions Turkey and Beijing 2008 silver medallists China.
Brazil was drawn in Group A with Iran, Morocco and Turkey, whilst Argentina was pitted in Group B against China and Mexico. The two best teams from each group will qualify for the semifinals.
The sport will be contested at the Olympic Tennis Centre, located in the Barra Olympic Park, between 9-17 September.
The reigning world and Parapan American champions have won every gold medal since the introduction of football 5-a-side to the Paralympic Games at Athens 2004 and are hoping to maintain the 100 per cent record on home soil this September. Jefinho and Ricardinho, who are widely considered the world’s two best players, will be leading Brazil towards a possible fourth Paralympic gold.
Since a much-celebrated sixth place at London 2012, defeating Great Britain and Turkey along the way, Iran has enjoyed a steady growth and will be one of Brazil’s main rivals in Rio. At the 2014 Asian Championships, they defeated favourites China and Japan to claim gold. With the Paralympics one month away, Iran may become the first Asian team to claim the blind football Paralympic title.
In 2014, Morocco competed for the first time at a World Championships, in Japan. Even though they could not win any of the five games, they conceded only two goals. One year later, Morocco retained the continental title after a 2-0 win over Cameroon and became the first African football 5-a-side team to have qualified for a Paralympic Games.
They did not have a good performance at the 2014 World Championships, finishing in eleventh place, but Turkey rapidly bounced back at the 2015 European Championships, where they defeated London 2012 bronze medallists Spain on their way to continental gold.
Argentina have proven to be Brazil’s biggest threat on multiple occasions. They lost to their South American rivals by a one-goal margin in the 2014 World Championships and 2015 Parapan American Games finals, and on penalties in the London 2012 semi-finals. But Argentina aim to make a splash in Rio, the city where they became world champions in 2002.
Arguably the third strongest team in the competition, China seek to top the blind football Paralympic podium for the first time after claiming silver at Beijing 2008. Four years ago, they finished fifth at the London Paralympics and went on to claim a fourth place at the Worlds, in 2014. China are always a team to be reckoned with.
The North American team qualified for its first Paralympic Games after capturing bronze at the Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games. “We know that Brazil’s and Argentina’s blind football structures are ahead of ours, but the sport in growing fast in Mexico and the team consequently becoming more competitive,” said striker Jorge Lanzagorta.
Sport fans from around the world can now buy their Paralympic tickets for Rio 2016 from authorised ticket resellers (ATRs)
The IPC’s Global ATR is Jet Set Sports, and Rio 2016 tickets and packages can be purchased on the CoSport website.
Residents of Brazil can buy 2016 Paralympics tickets directly from the Rio 2016 website.
Visa International is the exclusive payment card and the official payment system for the Paralympic Games.