Eight European teams are among the 16 currently competing in the Netherlands at the CPISRA Football seven-a-side World Championships, with qualification for the 2012 Paralympic Games up for grabs.
Taking place in Assen, Emmen and Hoogeveen, the tournament began on 17 June, with the final taking place on 1 July at the FC Emmen stadium. England, Finland, the Republic of Ireland, Russia, Scotland, Spain and 2008 Beijing Paralympic gold medallists Ukraine have joined the hosts in the event for players with cerebral palsy and related neurological conditions.
The Cerebral Palsy International Sports and Recreation Association (CPISRA) was founded in 1978 and is currently made up of 59 national members, governing a range of sports including athletics, cycling and boccia. The organisation was awarded UEFA's CHF 1m charity cheque in 2007 to help develop the sport of CP football in parts of Europe that did not previously play it, as well as enhancing coaching, educational and promotional materials.
The association has its own version of football, a modified seven-a-side game that has been played by athletes with cerebral palsy for many years. Matches consist of two halves of 30 minutes, played on a smaller pitch than the 11-a-side game, with no offside law and throw-ins made by rolling the ball into the field of play using one hand.
A European Championship is also held, with the last event taking place in Glasgow in 2010, while the sport has officially been part of the Paralympic programme since the New York/Stoke Mandeville Games in 1984. The top four nations at the current World Championships in the Netherlands, of those that have not already secured qualification, will win a place at next summer's London Paralympics.
World-ranked number one nation, Ukraine, have enjoyed a fine start to their bid to add the World Championship to their European and Paraylmpic titles. They made it into the second round with three wins from three games in the group stage, scoring 19 goals in the process. The Netherlands, Scotland, Russia, Finland, England, the Republic of Ireland and Spain also qualified for the last-16.
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