Friday 31 August – Saturday 8 September 2012
Olympic Park – Riverbank Arena
Number of competitors
Eight teams with eight athletes per team.
Each country is limited to one team.
Although athletes may have different degrees of visual impairment, all four outfield players must wear blackout masks to ensure fairness. The goalkeeper may be fully sighted.
Read more about Paralympic 5-a-side Football classification
Number of medal events
Field of play
The pitch is 42m long and 22m wide, with goals at either end 3m wide and 2m high.
History of 5-a-side Football at the Paralympic Games
5-a-side Football made its Paralympic debut at Athens in 2004.
Matches are played between two teams, each with four outfield players who wear a blindfold and a goalkeeper. The ball makes a sound when it is moving, so players can hear it when it is on the ground or in the air.
The pitch is divided into thirds, with each team allowed one (sighted) guide for each third of the pitch to call out instructions: the attacking third; the midfield third, for which the team’s coach is the guide; and the defensive third, for which the goalkeeper serves as the guide.
The pitch is surrounded with a rebound wall; the sport is played with no throw-ins and no offside rule, which ensures non-stop action.
Matches are played over two halves of 25 minutes each, plus 10 minutes for half-time.
For a complete set of rules, please refer to the website of the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA), governing body for the sport.
The Paralympic tournament features eight men’s teams, initially two groups of four teams in a round-robin format. The top two teams in each group qualify for the semi-finals, with the winning semi-finalists going head to head for the gold.
In the group matches games can be played to a draw. In the semi-finals, if scores are tied the game goes straight to a penalty shoot-out. In the final, if scores are tied at the end of full time, two five-minute periods of extra time are played. If scores are still tied after this, the game goes to a penalty shoot-out of five shots per team, followed by sudden-death penalties if necessary.
A referee oversees each game, assisted by a second referee.
Keys to success
Paralympic 5-a-side Football, like its 11-a-side counterpart, is a fast and physically demanding game. Players not only need to have speed, strength and stamina, but excellent spatial awareness, allowing them to be effective on the pitch and play together as a team.
Breaking the rules
The referee will be looking out for rule infringements. If a player commits five personal fouls, they are sent off for the rest of the match. Some infringements will lead to the opposition team being awarded a free kick, giving them possession. If a player is fouled inside the goal area, he is awarded a penalty kick, providing the chance of a game-changing goal.
Countdown: During the last two minutes of each half, the clock is stopped for free kicks, kick-ins, goal clearances and corner kicks.
Extra time: If a match in the knockout stages is tied at the end of 50 minutes, the teams play 10 minutes of extra time in a bid to find a winner.
Pitch: The playing area, measuring 42m x 22m.
If you want to find out about 5-a-side Football in your country, including clubs, facilities and coaching schemes, check the website of your National Governing Body. To find out how you can get involved in 5-a-side Football in the UK, go to thegamesandbeyond.com
For more information on the 5-a-side Football competition at London 2012 and the rules of the sport, go to the website of the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA), governing body for the sport.