France will compete at their fifth consecutive International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) Blind Football World Championships in Madrid, Spain, between 7 and 17 June. With the sport’s main event outside the Paralympics fast approaching, here are five things you should know about the French team.
1. The French national team was formed in 1998 under the governance of the Federation Francaise Handisport.
2. France are a familiar face at the World Championships, having previously qualified for the past four (2002, 2006, 2010, 2014). Their best finish came at the 2010 World Championships in Hereford, Great Britain, where they ended fifth.
3. Les Blues (The Blues) qualified for the 2018 IBSA Blind Football World Championship after they reached the semi-final of the 2017 European Championships in Berlin, Germany. They subsequently lost to Russia on penalties and to England 2-0 in the bronze medal match, but their fourth-place finish saw them qualify for Madrid.
4. Experienced French defender Hakim Arezki will be the star player with his physical strength in defence and his clinical right foot in attack.
5. France best performance was at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, where they won a much-celebrated silver medal.
The 2018 IBSA Blind Football World Championships will be held in Madrid, Spain, from 7-17 June, and will feature 16 of the world’s best teams. As well as the title on offer, the competition is also an important step on the road to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.