The London 2012 Paralympic 7-a-side Football competition schedule has been confirmed, revealing when the teams will play each other in the preliminary rounds of the tournament at the Riverbank Arena on the Olympic Park.
The first match will see Beijing 2008 silver medallists Russia take on Argentina on Saturday 1 September. On the same day, current Paralympic champions Ukraine play USA and host nation Great Britain kick off their campaign against the iconic yellow shirts from Brazil.
Ukraine, who scored 27 goals in five matches on their way to gold at the last Games, will face Great Britain on Monday 3 September. A transatlantic clash between Great Britain and USA is set to take place on Wednesday 5 September, and during the same session Ukraine will take on Brazil in a repeat of the semi-final four years ago.
Like Ukraine, Russia are also a high scoring side, netting 32 goals in six matches on their way to becoming world champions in July 2011. They will face Beijing bronze medallists Iran on Wednesday 5 September.
Semi-finals take place on Friday 7 September, before the gold medal match on Sunday 9 September.
Tickets for 7-a-side football are still available on a first come first served basis at www.tickets.london2012.com, starting at £10, or just £5 for young people and seniors. £10 Olympic Park Day Passes, an exclusive ticket type for the Paralympics, are also available for general admission on a first come, first served basis for all days apart from 9 September.
The men’s-only competition, played by athletes with cerebral palsy, follows rules which vary only slightly from the original FIFA handbook. Matches are often more open and high-scoring than the 11-a-side version of the game due to a combination of no offside rule and a relatively large playing area.
Debbie Jevans, London 2012 Director of Sport, said: “The 7-a-side Football tournament is set to be an enthralling spectacle for fans this summer as the world’s top nations head to London to compete for gold. With exciting, high-scoring games expected on the distinctive blue and pink pitches of the Riverbank Arena, this should be a very popular ticket this summer.”
Tom Langen, Chair of the CPISRA Football 7-a-side Committee said, “The result of the Paralympic draw promises exciting and excellent matches in the Riverbank Arena. After hard and fair qualification the top eight countries in cerebral palsy football will challenge each other for the gold medal. Every football fan should take the opportunity to visit the competition and I am convinced they will be surprised by the level of these top athletes.”
3. Great Britain
The draw means that a number of the matches taking place at the BT Paralympic World Cup in Manchester this week will be repeated at the Paralympics this summer as Brazil, the USA and Great Britain will all meet again at the Olympic Park in the preliminary rounds.
Great Britain finished seventh at Beijing 2008 and their squad for the Paralympics includes Martin Sinclair, brother of current Swansea City player Scott Sinclair, and Michael Barker, who played Everton youth football with international star Wayne Rooney.
Based on world rankings, the eight teams in the tournament are divided into two pools of four, with each team playing every other in their pool. The top two nations from each group progress to the semi-finals, with group winners playing against the runners-up from the other group.
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Notes to editors:
Images of the Riverbank Arena can be downloaded here.
A full time-lapse showing the construction of the venue and aerial shots are available from the London 2012 footage library
The Riverbank Arena is a temporary stadium based at the northern end of the Olympic Park. The centre will be the only fully outdoor venue on the Olympic Park with seating for 16,000 spectators who will enjoy stunning views south across the Park. The Riverbank Arena will be used to host both the 5 and 7-a-side Paralympic Football Competitions.
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