As the tournament’s 2nd edition gets under way in Poland, we look at the growing popularity of amputee football, started by chance in the United States over 40 years ago.
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What is the European amputee football championship?
The tournament is played every four years, coinciding with the UEFA EURO finals. The first edition took place in 2017 in Turkey, with the host nation overcoming England in the final in front of 41,000 fans at the Besiktas Stadium. The next edition is scheduled for 2024.
When and where is the 2021 tournament being played and who is taking part?
The southern Polish city of Kraków is hosting the 2021 European amputee football championship from 12 to 19 September 2021 with matches played in three stadia – Cracovia, Garbarnia and Pradniczanka.
The 14 participating national teams are split into four groups:
- Group A: Israel, Poland, Ukraine and Spain
- Group B: England, France and Greece
- Group C: Belgium, Germany, Ireland and Russia
- Group D: Georgia, Italy and Turkey
Mateusz Widłak, president of the European Amputee Football Federation
"The amputee football EURO in Kraków will be spectacular! More and more people are interested in the game. Fans appreciate the commitment as well as the skills of amputee football players."
How popular is amputee football in Europe?
Amputee football is growing in popularity across Europe. International tournaments and domestic club championships are helping to attract new players and raise awareness of the discipline among the wider football community.
Thanks to its partnership with UEFA, the European Amputee Football Federation (EAFF) supports the development of junior programmes in member countries, encouraging amputee children to take up the game.
How did amputee football start?
Amputee football was ‘discovered’ by chance in 1980 by Don Bennet of Seattle, who had lost a leg in a boating accident.
Watching his son play basketball, Bennet pushed a bouncing ball back with the help of his crutches. Soon, Bennet and a group of seven disabled skiers were regularly playing amputee football to stay active during the winter months. Four decades later, the sport is officially recognised by FIFA and played in more than 30 countries around the world – a figure that is growing all the time. It is hoped that amputee football will soon become a Paralympic discipline.
When did the first international tournament take place?
The first official international amputee football tournament was played in 1984 in Seattle and involved teams from North and Central America. Within three years, the first unofficial world championship had been staged with El Salvador triumphing; their team was composed entirely of war veterans.
How can fans get tickets for the European Championships?
Admission to all matches is free of charge. Find out more.