Return of goalball: Live from Lahti for the Euros B
Date: June 2, 2021
Men’s and women’s teams from across Europe will go for promotion to the top tier of goalball from Wednesday (3 June) at the 2021 IBSA Goalball European Championships B in Lahti, Finland.
Despite the competition being held behind closed doors, the Finnish women are counting on virtual support from local fans to carry them to group A.
At the last Euros B in Chorzow, Poland, in 2018, Finland finished second and just missed out on promotion.
“Of course we are sad that you fans can’t come as a live audience and we would have loved it if you were there and cheering us,” player Susanna Halme said. “I hope you can still stay online and support us. We are in our home venue and it is a chance for us and part of it is the home audience. The Finnish goalball fans are really important because the home audience make it what it is.”
Playing alongside Finland for a coveted place in the league above are Denmark, France, Poland, Hungary and Spain.
France are in the ascendancy, enjoying new investment in goalball since Paris was awarded the 2024 Paralympic Games. Audrey Pierron was amongst the top five scorers from 2018 and will be lining-up again to challenge for gold.
The opening women’s game will feature a clash between Finland and Hungary with the rest of the teams also playing their opening matches on 3 June.
Competing in the men’s are Greece, Israel, Portugal, Romania and Russia in pool A and Great Britain, Italy, Montenegro, Poland and Sweden in pool B.
Greece were promoted after finishing second in 2018, but returned to group B following the 2019 European Championships A. That was despite a spirited performance from Athanasios Chatzipandou who scored 29 goals across the tournament to end as the second top striker.
Beijing 2008 Paralympic bronze medallists Sweden will also be hoping for a swift return to group A following demotion in 2019.
Israel and Great Britain meanwhile are aiming to join their female counterparts in the first division, whilst Montenegro will try to retain their position in the group after promotion from group C.
A tie between Greece and Romania opens play for the men on 3 June.
The top three finishers from both the men’s and women’s competitions will be promoted to group A. The bottom three men’s finishers will be relegated. The promoted teams will get the chance to compete at the Hangzhou 2022 IBSA Goalball World Championships in China and qualification for Paris 2024.
All games begin at 9am local time each day. The men’s quarter and semi-finals and women’s semi-finals take place on 5 June. On 6 June, medal matches start at 11am.
Full, live coverage with English commentary will be available from all matches through the 2021 IBSA Goalball European Championships B across YouTube and Facebook.