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Sport Overview

Football 7-a-side is played by athletes with cerebral palsy and other neurological disorders, including stroke and traumatic brain injury. The game is played on a reduced field of play and is made up of seven players including the goalkeeper. There is no offside rule, and throw-ins or rolling the ball back onto the field of play are allowed.

Prior to competition players are classified between FT5 and FT8. There must be one FT5 and only one FT8 on the field at any given time, which makes coaching and strategy challenging.

Football 7-a-side is making its return to the Parapan Am Games in 2015.


Football’s roots run deep, and its popularity in countries around the world continues to grow. Football 7-a-side made its debut at the Cerebral Palsy-International Sports and Recreation Association Games in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1978. The sport became part of the Paralympic Games program in 1984.

How it works

Football 7-a-side is similar to football played by able-bodied athletes, with a few modifications. In this fast and physically demanding game, each team has seven players, the size of the playing field and goal area are smaller, each of the two halves lasts 30 minutes, there is no offside rule and throw-ins made be made with one hand only.


Any illegal interference with an opponent, including shoving, tripping, kicking, pushing.

Free kick
Awarded after an offence has occurred and taken from the spot where the offence occurred.

Penalty card
Used by referees to indicate when a player has committed an offence. A yellow card serves as a warning to the player when a serious offence has been committed; a second offence to the same player will result in a red card and the player is expelled from the game.

The playing area.



Physical Impairment

Sport Classes

Sport classes in football 7-a-side are based on physical impairment, and are most commonly associated with cerebral palsy.

As it is a team sport, classification aims at ensuring fairness between both teams. The players are first allocated one of the following four sport classes:

FT 5:
Athletes have hypertonia or spasticity in both lower limbs and to some degree in both upper limbs. The players have difficulty running, turning and stopping because of a lack of lower limb control.

FT 6:
Athletes are affected by coordination and balance problems in all four limbs and trunk. Players typically have difficulties dribbling the ball when running, accelerating and stopping.

Athletes in this sport class have only one side of their body affected which causes them to walk and run with a limp.

FT8 describes the minimum impairment eligible for football 7-a- side. While the impact of impairment may not be visible when watching the athlete run or control the ball, involuntary muscle contractions and hesitation before explosive movements constitutes activity limitations in comparison to able-bodied players.

Fairness Between Two Teams: to ensure a fair game between two teams, each team of seven players must have one FT5 or FT6 player on the field at all times and is not allowed to have more than one FT8 player on the field.

Additional Information

Additional Information