Football is the oldest Deaf Sport; it has been included in the program of the Summer Deaflympics since 1924. To date football is one of the most prestigious and highly-attended (in terms of the number of participants) kinds of events in the program of Deaflympics that are held every four years under the aegis of the International Committee of Sports for the Deaf (ICSD).
Currently, in addition to the Deaflympic football tournaments there are World and Continental Football Championships (European, Asian, Pan American), in which teams from more than 70 world countries participate. Futsal (men, women) is also being actively developed, World and Continental Futsal Championships are held regularly. World Deaf sports movement has arisen in 1924.
Eugène Rubens-Alcais of France became the founder of the International Committee of Sports for the Deaf (CISS-ICSD). Eugène Rubens-Alcais (1884-1963) was a competitive cyclist who came to be known as the deaf version of Baron de Coubertin, the father of the modern Olympics.
Rubens-Alcais developed his vision of international games for the deaf, patterned on the modern Olympics. He promoted the idea in his deaf sports magazine, The Silent Sportsman. Mr. Rubens-Alcais led his growing deaf sports movement as the President of CISS from its founding in 1924 until 1953. From 1924 to 2019 National Deaf Sports organizations from more than 92 countries have Membership in the ICSD. History of Deaf Games connects ICSD’ past with its future, the knowledge of history of development of world deaf sports movement helps achievement of new sports successes. ICSD as organization is recognized by the International Olympic committee (IOC) in 1951. In 1924, according to their Constitution, ICSD has 6 sports among which there was football.
From 1924 World Deaf Games each 4 years are spent. Under the aegis of the ICSD for 95 years 23 times were hold World Deaf Games which in 2001 have been renamed into Deaflympics by the International Olympic committee. All these years football was the integral making part of the World Deaf Games and then Deaflympics. For deaf football players the World Deaf Games are the most important competition.
From 1924 to 1965 football competitions held by Olympic system, with the subsequent definition of all places of participating teams. From 1965 in connection with increase quantity of teams, qualifying matches on continents at first will be organized, 16 winners of qualifying groups come to final tournament. Team-winner of the previous Games and host country’s team are supposed to final without qualifying matches. In the program of the Summer Deaflympics Games 2005 in Melbourne (Australia), women’s football debuted, which today is firmly on its feet and is developing by leaps and bounds. Women’s futsal entered the program of world championships at the 2nd World Championships in Sofia (Bulgaria) in 2007. For the first time in the history of deaf men’s and women’s football, the world championships for both groups was held in 2008 Patras (Greece). The 2nd championships was held in Ankara, Turkey – 16 men’s teams and 9 women’s teams. 3rd championships in Salerno, Italy – 16 men’s teams and 7 women’s teams.
Due to the growing number of teams and the expansion of the geography of the deaf football, it was decided to establish the Deaf International Football Association (DIFA), which was officially registered by the Registration Chamber in Geneva (Switzerland) on June 14, 2010. And in September 2018, DIFA was registered in Moscow (Russia). DIFA is an officially recognized international organization dedicated to the development and promotion of football and futsal for the deaf in the world.
In pursuance of the main vector of development, DIFA successfully organized and conducted the 1st U-18 World Futsal Championships in December 2017, Bangkok (Thailand) that gathered more than 100 participants from 8 countries. Nowadays we are focused on development of the concept of teaching aids, programs of seminars and conferences.
Since 2015 DIFA has been a full member of ISCD, and working contacts have been established between DIFA and FIFA.
Participants in the Games must be Deaf, defined as a hearing loss of at least 55 dB per tone average in the better ear (3-tone frequency average at 500, 1000 and 2000 Hertz, ISO 1969 Standard).
Football during World Deaf Games from 1924 (from 2001 as Deaflympics)
Now all over the world the large quantity of the Deaf takes a great interest in football. For development of this sport, holding competitions and international tournaments in high level, legal organization DIFA (Deaf International Football Association) has been created.
On March 28th of 2015, DIFA became the associated member of the International Committee of Sports for the Deaf (ICSD) at the 45th ICSD Congress in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia.