Classification & Eligibility
Formats of Para Football use classification systems to structure their competition, ensuring a fair and level playing field. Classification determines which athletes are eligible to compete in each format of the game.
In Para Football, classification relates to the athlete's impairment. The impact that an impairment has on a given sport may differ, and therefore each sport has its own sport classes, which are the groups in which an athlete will compete. It aims to minimise the impact of the impairment on athletes’ performance so that the sporting excellence determines which athlete or team is ultimately victorious.
Ensuring that athletes are classified prior to competing is crucial to safeguarding the integrity and credibility of the competition. It is important to underline that the competitive structure provided by classification systems is not only key for elite sport but also necessary for promoting grassroots participation in sports for people with an impairment.
On this page you will find information from both the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and the International Committee of Sport for the Deaf (ICSD), relating to the two sets of classification rules.
The IPC recognises and are responsible for ten eligible impairments grouped under 'Physical Impairments', 'Visual Impairment' and 'Intellectual Impairment'. These impairments are elibible for the Paralympic Games.
The ICSD is responsible for 'Hearing Impairment', which is eligible impairment for the Deaflympics.
Each International Federation (IF) that governs a format of football is responsible for creating and implementing a classification system. IFs must have classification systems and rules in compliance with the codes of the IPC or ICSD to be recognised by them.
Players with multiple impairments
If a player exhibits multiple impairments then they may be eligible for more than one format of football. As most sports do not offer sport classes that consider more than one impairment category, athletes with multiple impairment types should make a choice as to which of their impairments leads to the greatest activity limitation.
The discussion on multiple impairment categories refers only to athletes with two or more eligible impairments, as these are defined by the IF.
If an athlete has an eligible impairment in combination with a non-eligible impairment, the athlete will only be assessed on the basis of his or her eligible impairment.
Classification panels have respective expertise in their own sport and impairment group(s), and therefore would not classifiy for other formats of football.
It is recognised from the onset that there is no ‘one size fits all’ model; some organisations will have significant classification knowledge and resources while others may have very limited to no knowledge or resources. In addition, there is a diversity of national sport governing body models that must be considered when developing classification at the national level.
National Governing Bodies should, in co-operation with International Federation should develop a National Classification Strategy which includes policies, procedures, rules, and regulations.
National Governing Body Classification Rules should reflect the International Federation Classification Rules as much as is practical and should not be substantially different to ensure compliance.
International Paralympic Committee (IPC)
IPC Athlete Classification Code
The IPC Athlete Classification Code is created to support and coordinate the development and implementation of accurate, reliable, consistent, and credible sport-focused classification systems.
2015 Athlete Classification Code provides a framework, which aims to permit the Paralympic Movement - athletes, classifiers, administrators and scientists - to manage the challenges and seize the opportunities to allow the realisation of the vision of the Paralympic Movement for the future.
Compliance with the Code and International Standards is mandatory by all signatories of the Code.
Classification is carried out through a process called “Athlete Evaluation” that comprise procedures for the assessment of athletes and the allocation of Sport Class and Sport Class Status.
Athlete Evaluation answers three fundamental questions:
- Does the athlete have an Eligible Impairment for this sport?
- Does the athlete’s Eligible Impairment meet the Minimum Impairment Criteria of the sport?
- Which Sport Class should the athlete be allocated in based on the extent to which the athlete is able to execute the specific tasks and activities fundamental to the sport?
Any athlete wishing to participate in Para sport competition must have an Underlying Health Condition that leads to a permanent Eligible Impairment. The Paralympic Movement offers sport opportunities for athletes that have an impairment that belongs to one of ten Eligible Impairment types.
The 10 Eligible Impairments are often referred to as three distinct groups:
- Physical Impairments
Comprising the eight impairments that cause activity limitations that are biomechanical in nature: Impaired muscle power, Impaired range of movement, Limb deficiency, Leg length difference, Hypertonia, Ataxia, Athetosis, and Short stature;
- Vision Impairment
- Intellectual Impairment
Each Paralympic sport defines which Eligible Impairment types they provide sporting opportunities for in their classification rules.
While some sports provide competition opportunities for athletes with all ten Eligible Impairments (e.g. Para athletics, Para swimming), other sports are specific to one Eligible Impairment (e.g. goalball is a sport for athletes with vision impairment) or a selection of Eligible Impairments (e.g. equestrianpara-dressage, para-cycling).
The assessment of whether or not an athlete has an Eligible Impairment for a sport must be conducted by the International Sport Federation governing that sport. It is important to note that the presence and permanency of one of the sport’s Eligible Impairments is a prerequisite to participate in para sport, but not the sole criterion.
The assessment of whether or not an athlete complies with Minimum Impairment Criteria for a sport, the allocation of a Sport Class and designation of a Sport Class Status is undertaken by a classification panel. Classification panels include a minimum of two classifiers.
Classifiers are trained experts – physicians, physiotherapists, coaches, sport scientists, psychologists, ophthalmologist, and have a complimentary knowledge about impairments and their impact on the respective sports. Classifier’s qualifications and required competencies are determined by each International Sport Federation.
International Committee of Sport for the Deaf (ICSD)
Only deaf and hard of hearing athletes can compete in the Summer/Winter Deaflympics, World Deaf Championships, Regional Championships, and other ICSD-sanctioned competitions.
Deaf is defined as a hearing loss of at least 55dB in the better ear (3 tone frequency average of 500, 1,000 and 2,000 Hertz, ANSI 1969 standard);
It is strictly forbidden for a competitor to use any kind of hearing aid(s)/amplification or external cochlear implant parts during the warm-up and competition within the restricted zone area. It is quite clear that using amplification in sports gives an advantage over those not using it. Therefore, it is forbidden in the warm-up and competition.
More information is available from the International Committee of Sport for the Deaf here: www.deaflympics.com/icsd