Blind football fascinated fans in Milan as the UEFA Champions Festival showcased different variants on the game, players eager to underline that they "belong to the world of football".
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Blind football captivated fans at the UEFA Champions Festival in Milan ahead of the 2016 UEFA Champions League final as Bordeaux competed against Liguria in an exhibition game on the pitch next to the Castello Sforzesco.
The game involves a ball fitted with a noise-making device, with players' eyes covered to ensure a level playing field between blind and partially sighted footballers, while only the goalkeepers can see. The players move fearlessly on the pitch, with an impressive sense of space and sharp technical skills, always displaying a spirit of solidarity.
Toussaint Akpweh, development director at the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA), underlined that the players are ambassadors for blind football.
"To be part of the UEFA Champions League Festival is an adventure," he told UEFA.com. "Most importantly, it represents what all these athletes look for – to be recognised as sportsmen and footballers in their own right. The players do not belong to the world of disability; they belong to the world of football."
The French and Italian teams involved in the exhibition game are both members of the IBSA, one of UEFA's social responsibility partners. To find out more about the UEFA Football and Social Responsibility programme, read the 2014/15 season report.
The UEFA Champions Festival 2016 ran over four days in central Milan, offering a full range of activities including music, football and big-screen entertainment.
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