While the sailing community has largely been active in trying to get their sport back on the Paralympic program since it was cut at an IPC meeting earlier this month, the efforts of 7-a-side football have largely been much quieter. International Federation of CP Football created a petition on change.org 5 days ago that has only has 2.325 signatures, 175 short of their goal of 2,500.
Organizationally, International Federation of CP Football’s Facebook page has only one update referencing the decision and their webpage has an under construction notice on it. On Twitter, their relatively new account has only two tweets in its history, both referencing the decision.
CPISRA, who governs the sport, published a letter on February 4 that said, “Last Saturday was a black day for CP Football. The IPC Governing Board decided that our football will not be included in the sport programme of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. This decision was a shock for CPISRA and IFCPF. We are awaiting a detailed written explanation for the decision from the IPC. We will provide you with further information once we have received it. ” Their update on February 6 seems fatalistic and provides few details as to what the IPC communicated with them, only saying, “As you know, we are living in exciting times of change and this is a very special year for CPISRA – it is the first time we do not govern a Paralympic sport, but we have the CPISRA World Games, RaceRunning events and Slalom development.”
According to International Federation of CP Football, the decision to remove the sport from the program has consequences for organizations that support 7-a-side football because removal from the program means cuts in funding and possible cancellation of programs.
The IPC stated in their minutes that the both sports failed to meet the minimum number of nations participating in the sport to be included on the program. The IPC minimum requirements for a sport is 32 countries where the sport is widely and regularly participated in on the high performance level. CPISRA 2014 7-a-side global rankings from their website list only 22 countries that have participated in a major regional championship since 2011. These teams include Russia, Ukraine, Brazil, Netherlands, Iran, Argentina, Ireland, Scotland, USA, England, Canada, Australia, Northern Ireland, Portugal, Japan, Spain, Venezuela, Finland, Korea, Germany, Denmark, Mexico, and Singapore. While they total 39 teams as participating on their global rankings, they do not indicate that these teams have competed at the international level. These countries include Austria, Bangladesh, Chile, China, Colombia, Haiti, Italy, Jordan, Malaysia, Myanmahr, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Thailand, Tunisia, United Arabic Emirates, and Wales. This situation appears to mirror the situation with in sailing with ISAF, where the participation numbers were called into question by the IPC as unverifiable.