Blind soccer teams are made up of four outfield players and one goalkeeper. Outfield players are visually impaired which means they are completely blind, have very low visual acuity and/or no light perception, while the goalkeeper must be sighted or partially sighted.
To ensure fair competition, all outfield players must wear eyeshades. Teams can also have off-field guides to assist them. The ball makes a noise due to a sound system located inside that helps players orient themselves.
Before attempting to tackle, players must shout the word ‘voy’ so that the person they are attempting to tackle is aware. This is designed to prevent injuries wherever possible. Players committing five fouls during one game are disqualified from the game. Spectators must remain silent while watching the game until a goal is scored.
Blind soccer is played on a rectangular field that measures 40m long and 20m wide.
The whole length of the pitch is covered by kickboards to prevent the ball from going out of play. The goals are 3.66m wide and 2.14m high.
The duration of the match is 40 minutes, divided into two 20-minute halves plus 10 minutes for halftime. Each team can request a one-minute timeout during each half.
During the last two minutes of both halves, and in case of extra time, the timekeeper must stop the clock for a free kick, kick-in, goal kick and corner kick.
Humans are believed to obtain about 80 percent of the information they receive from their sense of vision, so the outfield players have a guide whose job is to serve as their eyes. The guide stands behind the opposition goal and communicates information such as the distance to the goal and the location of other players. The team coach and the goalkeeper are also permitted to give cues during a game, such as ‘eight meters, 45 degrees, shoot!’. Players use this information to find gaps in the defense and skillfully exploit them to move the ball toward the goal.