Madrid, Spain, has been selected as host city for the 2018 IBSA Blind Football World Championships, from 17-25 June, and will be the first to feature 16 teams, four more than at the 2014 Worlds in Tokyo, Japan.
The initial format, subject to modification, will include a first stage featuring four groups of four teams, with the top two teams in each group qualifying for the quarter-finals.
This will be the seventh edition of the World Championships, with Spain staging the event for the first time since 2000.
Organised by the Spanish Blind Sports Federation (FEDC), the tournament has already received strong backing from a number of key institutions, including the Spanish National Organisation of the Blind (ONCE) and the National Sports Council (CSD).
The ONCE Duques de Pastrana Sport and Culture Complex, located in the north-east of the city, will be the event’s venue. The complex features an indoor sports hall, a 500-seat auditorium, large gardens, a fully-equipped fitness area and two artificial grass blind football fields.
Accommodation for players, support staff and officials will be at the four-star Ilunion Pio XII Hotel, just 700 metres from the venue.
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“For us it is a big and exciting challenge that places Spain at the heart of blind sports as an international benchmark once again,” said FEDC President Angel Luis Gomez.
“At the same time, it is a big responsibility because we want each and every participant to enjoy the competition and take away some fond memories of their stay in Spain.”
IBSA Football Committee Chairman Ulrich Pfisterer also expressed his delight: “I am very pleased to see Madrid staging the World Championships in 2018.
“It is very important to have different continents sharing this prestigious event, and Tokyo did a great job in 2014.
“Spain was instrumental in bringing blind football to Europe and developing it here. They have great facilities and I am confident their hospitality and organisational skills will be top quality.”