Blind Football Euro Challenge Cup postponed
Date: April 17, 2021
The IBSA Football Committee has announced it has been forced to postpone its Euro Challenge Cup tournament for developing European teams until the summer of 2022.
Originally scheduled to take place in Stockholm, Sweden, in the middle of June this year, the announcement comes amid concerns and uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 and the impact of the countermeasures currently in place on the event.
Given the present situation in Sweden, including strict domestic regulations governing sporting events involving large numbers of people, legitimate concerns over the spread of the virus and clear recommendations on limiting international travel, which are likely to remain in place for at least two more months, the difficult decision to postpone has been agreed with local partners Parasport Sweden.
The tournament and associated in-person referee training course will now take place from 12-27 July 2022 in line with the following draft programme:
Tuesday July 12th – arrival referees for training course
Wednesday July 13th – referee training course, arrival all teams
Thursday July 14th – match day 1
Friday July 15th – match day 2
Saturday July 16th – match day 3, including final
Sunday July 17th – departure all participants
Those countries which had confirmed their participation in this year’s event – hosts Sweden, Armenia, Austria, Portugal and Switzerland – will have a secured slot in next year’s tournament and will be joined by one more emerging team.
Ulrich Pfisterer, chair of the IBSA Football Committee, expressed his disappointment at the announcement: “It’s obviously not good news but we feel it is the most prudent decision considering the present circumstances. We want to make sure our competitions are safe, enjoyable experiences for everyone involved, and especially for the players, and sadly it wasn’t going to be possible to secure these conditions on the scheduled dates in June.”
“We’re happy to report our Swedish hosts are ready to stage the competition next year and we have already secured use of the same facilities. Moreover, our on-line referee education course, initially a spin-off from the cup and which is already underway, has proven to be very successful and we are currently training one hundred new officials from all over the world.”
“The decision to postpone wasn’t taken lightly, but we look forward to hosting the teams at the tournament in summer 2021.”
Lisa Lundell from Parasport Sweden and a member of the Local Organising Committee added: “It has become more and more apparent that we cannot run the tournament this summer as a football celebration. The alternative is to go for 2022 and that’s the decision we’ve made. We’re now really looking forward to welcoming European development teams to Stockholm 12-17 July next year instead.”
The IBSA Blind Football Euro Challenge Cup, a development event for national teams, offers emerging countries the opportunity to take their first steps in international blind football competitions. It is a key element of the UEFA-backed IBSA Blind Football Development Project Europe.
The 2022 tournament will be the first ever blind football competition to be played on Scandinavian soil. Previous Euro Challenge Cups have been held in the Czech Republic (Prague, 2014), Greece (Thessaloniki, 2016) and Poland (Krakow, 2018).