Madrid 2018: Blind football debutants impress

Six countries showed strong potential at World Championships 13 Jul 2018
Two blind football players battle for the ball

Iran and Mali had a World Championships to remember at Madrid 2018

ⒸMadrid 2018
By Keon Richardson | For the IPC

Brazil remained under the spotlight after winning their fifth International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) Blind Football World Championships in Madrid, Spain, last June.

But Worlds debutants Costa Rica, Iran, Mali, Mexico, Russia* and Thailand also enjoyed a competition to remember.

They all played fearlessly and with sheer passion, some of them even challenging the most established countries. Check out how each of them did:

Costa Rica

As the first country from Central America to compete at a World Championships, Costa Rica showed a bright future after finishing ahead of experienced teams such as France and South Korea and taking 14th. They achieved their first Worlds victory against South Korea 2-1.


The Paralympic silver medallists finished third in the ‘Group of Death’ against respective American champions and bronze medallists Argentina and Colombia, and London 2012 silver medallists France. They then defeated Thailand and Mali to achieve ninth place.


The Eagles from West Africa rocked the world with their individual flair, frightening pace and unforgettable song – ‘Zimbo.’ Mali finished third in Group D, picking up their first Worlds win against Costa Rica. They beat Mexico but lost to Iran on penalties, ending 10th.


Backed by their compatriots living in the Spanish capital who came in numbers with Mexican flags, the North American team qualified for the 11th place play-off against Thailand. With two goals from Jorge Lanzagorta, they defeated the Asian team to finish their participation with a win.


The European champions reached the bronze medal-match against China after concluding second in Group C, eliminating hosts Spain in the quarter finals and losing to Argentina in the semi-finals. Russia’s repeated endeavours to score were blocked by a stern Chinese defence, and a single goal from their opponent meant Russia settled for fourth place.


They were one of the most impressive teams with their physical strength and fast-paced attackers. The Asian Championships bronze medallists began with a surprising 3-0 win over Turkey. But they lost against Morocco 3-0 to take third in the group. Fatigue and injuries began to strike Thailand, leading to losses against Iran and Mexico and a 12th place finish.

*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 more information click here.