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Sport Overview

Football 5-a-side is a fast-paced sport for athletes with a visual impairment, and shows off their exceptional ability in dribbling, control and execution of powerful shots.

The field of play is smaller than the original football field, with boards on each side. Teams are made up of five players, including the goalkeeper who is the only sighted player on the team. Teams commonly have a guide who is positioned off the field of play and behind the goal being attacked who assists in directing players towards the target. The ball is equipped with a noise-making device to allow players to locate it by sound.

Brazil won gold, Argentina silver and Colombia bronze at the Pan Am Games in Guadalajara in 2011. Brazil is also the reigning Olympic champion from London 2012, where Argentina finished fourth.


The roots of football (soccer) run deep; although the evolution of the sport for athletes with a visual impairment wasn’t part of the Games until 2004 when it made its debut at the Athens Paralympic Games.

How it works

Similar in play to football (soccer), the football 5-a-side field is smaller, surrounded by a rebound wall and is played by athletes with a visual impairment.

The objective is to kick the ball—outfitted with a noise-making device—down the field into the opposing team’s goal. The four on-field athletes wear eyeshades to ensure fairness. The goalkeeper, however, may be fully or partially sighted.

Matches are made up of two 25-minutes halves, with a 10-minute break between halves.


Worn by the on-field athletes, eyeshades allow players with varying degrees of vision to compete together on an equal level.

Guide's area
The football pitch is divided into thirds. Each team is allowed one guide in each of the thirds to call out instructions.

The field of play, measuring 20 metres x 40 metres.



Visual Impairment

Sport Class

There is only one sport class for football 5-a-side. All players are visually impaired and have very low visual acuity or no light perception. All players must wear eyeshades during the game to ensure fair competition. The goalkeeper is sighted and able-bodied and does not undergo classification.

Additional Information

Additional Information