The classification rules of the International Federation for Football 7-a-side state that athletes with a physical impairment that affects their coordination are eligible to compete in the sport at the Paralympics.
The majority of players that compete in Football 7-a-side at the Paralympics have cerebral palsy.
Classification also groups athletes in classes, defined by the degree to which they are limited in their ability to perform activities within that sport. In Football 7-a-side there are four classes and they can be described as follows:
- C5 – athletes whose impairment causes the greatest disadvantage on the field of play and has a significant impact when walking and running
- C6 – athletes with an impairment that have an impact on the control and coordination of their arms, especially when running
- C7 – athletes with an impairment that affect one arm and one leg on the same side of the body
- C8 – athletes whose impairments cause the least disadvantage on the field of play; they often have involuntary muscle contractions as well as a tightness in their muscles
To minimise the impact of impairment on the outcome of competition teams must include at least one athlete with either C5 or C6 classification on the pitch and no more than two C8 players are allowed to play at the same time.
Read an overview of classification at the London 2012 Paralympic Games