The International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) have hailed the success of a blind football match played ahead of yesterday’s UEFA Champions League final in Milan.
The friendly contest between French club Bordeaux and Italian side Liguira took place on a pitch next to the iconic Sforza Castle before La Liga giants Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid did battle for the biggest prize in European football at the San Siro.
Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal scored the winning penalty as Real clinched their 11th Champions League crown after the Madrid derby had ended 1-1 after extra time.
Fans on their way to the San Siro, the home of AC Milan and Inter Milan, were able to watch the IBSA game, held as part of the UEFA Champions Festival.
The four-day event featured a range of entertainment and activities.
This year’s edition in the Italian capital represented the second time blind football and IBSA had been involved in the Festival.
“To be part of the UEFA Champions League Festival is an adventure," IBSA development director Toussaint Akpweh told UEFA’s official website.
"Most importantly, it represents what all these athletes look for - to be recognised as sportsmen and footballers in their own rights.
“The players do not belong to the world of disability; they belong to the world of football."
IBSA are a social responsibility partner of European football’s governing body, which sees the organisation provide financial support to develop football for blind and partially sighted players across the continent.
“I would like to thank IBSA and UEFA personally for letting me realise my dream,” Belgian national team player Kevin Vandenborght said in a report published about the results of the ongoing partnership.
“Thanks for enabling visually impaired people to practise the sport they like.
“For us, it is a second chance to be included in society and recognised thanks to sport goals and challenges.”