The International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) and British Blind Sport have revealed that the men’s and women’s IBSA Blind Football World Championships and the partially sighted World Championships will take place as part of the 2023 World Games in Birmingham, Great Britain.
The announcement was made with three years to go until the opening ceremony of Birmingham 2023.
The World Games are expected to feature a total of 11 sports and are the largest high-level international event for athletes with visual impairments, with more than 1,000 competitors from around 70 countries.
The trio of competitions are the most prestigious on the sports’ calendars, and the men’s blind football Worlds will be a qualifier for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games.
IBSA President, Jannie Hammershoi, said: “This exciting news is sure to grab the interest of football fans around the world, especially in Great Britain where the sport is hugely popular.
“With multiple World Championships showcasing the best that blind and partially sighted football has to offer, spectators will be able to get up-close to the action in Birmingham as well as experience the other sports at the same time.
“We expect a wonderful celebration which will follow on from the 2022 Commonwealth Games also taking place in the city, and ahead of Paris 2024. Be sure to follow the progress of the next World Games over the coming years as more excellent plans begin to unfold.”
Sallie Barker, Chair of British Blind Sport, said: “BBS is delighted and honoured that IBSA has awarded us the 2023 IBSA Blind Football World Championships.
“This event will be a key component of the 2023 World Blind Games in Birmingham. Football is a very popular sport in the UK and by hosting this event, alongside the other sports in the World Games, BBS will be able to provide a great showcase for our visually impaired athletes and ensure we can leave a lasting legacy from hosting the World Games.”
Jeff Davis, Para Football Development Manager at the Football Association, said: “The Football Association, UK Sport and BBS have worked together over the years to hold a variety of IBSA football tournaments successfully but to be able to promote and run all three World Football Championships, for the first time ever, during these games is a fantastic achievement and shows our continued commitment to Football For All. We hope the games will provide a showcase for the skills and passion of the athletes but also be the catalyst for young visually impaired people to see what they can achieve if they commit and train hard for the sport.
Birmingham 2023 is now a key target for our teams moving forward and we cannot wait for the exciting challenge ahead”.
The World Games, due to take place from 18-27 August 2023, will be held at the University of Birmingham, across the Edgbaston area and wider region.
Normally staged every four years the World Games are the pinnacle of IBSA’s international calendar outside of the Paralympic Games. With three Paralympic and 8 non-Paralympic sports, for some athletes it is the highest level they can compete at.
The last IBSA World Games were held in Seoul, South Korea, in 2015. A smaller version was held for judo and goalball – acting as qualifiers for Tokyo 2020 – in Fort Wayne, USA, in 2019.
Birmingham 2023 is expected to feature archery, powerlifting, judo, goalball, football, chess, tenpin bowling, shooting, cricket and showdown.
The IBSA Blind Football World Championships in 2023 follow a change in the sport’s cycle leading up to Paris 2024. Due to be held in 2022, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Worlds were moved to one year later to allow for regional Championships to take place in 2022.