Deaf football explained
A very similar format to mainstream football, deaf football has both 11-aside and futsal versions. The 11-a-side format is in the Deaflympics which take place every four years. Deaf players can (and do) play mainstream, pan-disability, and deaf specific football. Within these pathways’ players can take part in casual opportunities or more formal club and league-based football.
About Deaf Football
Who can play Deaf Football?
To be eligible to play in deaf-specific competitions, players must have a hearing loss of 55 decibels (dB) per tone average in their better ear.
Internationally, players must remove their hearing aids during matches to ensure fairness for all. This isn’t the case domestically.
Deaf Football Rules
The laws of the game are based on FIFA 11-a-side laws with one adaption:
- Referees have a flag which they raise alongside blowing their whistle - this provides a visual cue for players.
You can find the full laws of the game HERE.
Talent & Elite
There are opportunities for talented deaf players (both male & female) to progress in the England Talent Pathway.
The FA supports a men’s and women’s national squad competing in international fixtures. For more information on these squads please click HERE.
For information on the Para Performance Pathway, please click HERE
National Disability Sports Organisations
The National Disability Sports Organisations (NDSOs) are a good starting point for many disabled people who want to be more active. They provide advice, support and opportunities for people of all ages with specific impairments.
The NDSO for deaf athletes is UK Deaf Sport. For more information on UK Deaf Sport please click HERE.
Hearing Aid Guidance in Football
Deaf players are permitted to wear hearing aids or cochlear implants during mainstream football matches. The decision on whether to wear a hearing aid during a match is up to the player and/or their parents, not the referee.
The above guidance takes into account the referee’s responsibility under Law 4 of the Laws of the Game. Should a device of this nature become loose when playing, then the referee should request the player to leave the field of play in order for it to be made secure.
How to get involved in Deaf Football
Click here to access the Find Football tool and answer the questions to narrow down your search requirements so you can discover the most suitable playing opportunities local to you.
If you cannot find a suitable playing opportunity or would like to speak to someone, please contact your local County FA
Casual Playing Opportunities
Casual playing opportunities exist within the disability pathway to make it easier than ever to get involved. The FA’s National Participation programmes are listed below and are inclusive for disabled people to participate. Disability specific sessions also exist within each of these programmes if a non-disability session is not for you.
Weetabix is non-competitive football for girls aged 5-11 who want to give it a go for the very first time or want to play with other girls their own age. Most importantly, Weetabix Wildcats is all about having loads of fun and meeting new amazing friends. To find out more click here.
Comets is a recreational, pan-disability football programme for disabled boys and girls aged between 5 and 11. It provides a safe space for disabled children to play football and offers a new, flexible and inclusive way of playing. It's football that breaks the old rules and replaces them with a brand new one: JUST BE YOU. To find out more, click here
Squad Girls' Football
Squad Girls' Football provides girls aged 12-14 with the opportunity to play football their way. Sessions focus on having fun, making friends and developing core skills such as leadership and confidence. To find out more click here.
Just Play is for men and women of all abilities aged 16+ that just want to play football. There’s no need to join a team, play in a league or commit to training in all weathers. Just book online and turn up for a kick about. To find out more click here.
Other disability specific casual opportunities exist across the country for boys aged 5-16 and girls aged 12-16. To find these sessions please use the Find Football tool.
Deaf players can (and do) play in mainstream clubs and leagues.
Pan-Disability teams allow players with a broad spectrum of impairments to play together including deaf Players. There are now over 2000 affiliated disability teams within England. These teams provide an environment in which players can play competitively on a regular basis. Pan-Disability Leagues form the foundation of the disability competition structure and there is now a network of over 40 localised pan-disability leagues across England.
England Deaf Football coordinate the National Deaf League which is 11-a-side in format and split into national, north and south divisions. Fixtures take place on a home and away basis. For more information on the National Deaf League please click HERE or to find a team in your local area, contact your County FA.
FA Disability Cup
Para Football Performance Pathway
UK Deaf Sport