The International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) Football Committee has announced the eight countries that have qualified for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games in football 5-a-side.
The National Paralympic Committees of Brazil (hosts), Argentina, Mexico, Russia, Turkey, China, Iran and Morocco have all confirmed in writing their intention to take up the slots they have been offered by IBSA for the competition.
The Rio 2016 football 5-a-side tournament will take place at the Olympic Tennis Centre in Barra Olympic Park between 9-17 September.
Reigning Paralympic and world champion Brazil will be the team to beat, and Mexico, Russia and Morocco will make their Paralympic blind football debuts.
Additionally, the Committee also published an updated world ranking list.
The list has been refreshed to take into account results from all major events in 2015, including regional Championships in Africa, America, Asia and Europe, the IBSA World Games in Seoul, South Korea, and other ranking events.
Brazil remains atop the table, while Argentina overtakes Spain to take second place. China and France swap spots in fourth and fifth place, and Turkey moves up from eighth to sixth place.
The table is based on a new system to calculate the standings that includes events stretching back over the past four years. It will be updated on a rolling basis after each major event such as Paralympic Games, IBSA World Championships, regional championships and IBSA World Games, and at the end of each calendar year in the case of other ranking events such as sub-regional Championships and other events.
“The IBSA Football Committee has been working for some months now on improving and updating our world ranking system,” Ulrich Pfisterer, Chair of the IBSA Football Committee, said. “We had extensive discussions at our committee meeting in Hereford in August last year and then by email to agree on the new system."
"We believe the new system is a major step forward and improvement in term of grading teams in line with their performance in events over the past four years, and demonstrating the worldwide reach blind football currently enjoys."
"It’s encouraging to see there are more countries than ever in our table - we’re up from 35 to 40 nations in one year - and the number can only increase as new teams take part in ranking tournaments in the coming months and years."
"No ranking system is perfect so we will be monitoring the process this year with a view to fine-tuning the system at the end of 2016 if needed. I encourage countries to organise ranking tournaments in line with the new rules we have established.”
A pdf of the complete ranking list is available on IBSA’s website.