Goal! Soccer kicks off the latest sport announcement here!

Soccer

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Whether it is known as football or soccer, the one thing everyone can agree on is that this sport is a very popular one, thanks in large part to its ease of access! Introduced to the Special Olympics lineup of sports in 1986, football (more commonly referred to as soccer in the United States) quickly rose to prominence as one of the top 5 sports across all 7 Special Olympics regions worldwide. More than 140,000 athletes and Unified partners train and compete in soccer. At the 2026 Special Olympics USA Games, we anticipate to host 5v5 and 7v7 competitions.

How It’s Played:
Soccer is a globally beloved sport with a rich history and passionate following. Whether you’ve grown up with the game or are new to it, here are some fundamentals to understand: Soccer is a dynamic team sport played on a large rectangular field, typically outdoors, between two teams each fielding five or seven players. The objective is to score goals by kicking the ball into the opposing team’s net, which is guarded by a goalkeeper. Players use a combination of dribbling, passing, and shooting skills to move the ball across the field and create scoring opportunities. Unlike most sports, players cannot use their hands (except for the goalkeeper within their penalty area), adding an extra layer of challenge and finesse to the game. The team with the most goals at the end of the match, typically consisting of two halves, wins. Soccer demands athleticism, skill, teamwork, and adaptability, with players using various tactics to outplay their opponents.

Soccer will be held at the soccer complex at the National Sports Center in Blaine, MN.
On the soccer field, I learned teamwork, discipline, and the importance of pushing myself to achieve my goals. These skills translate perfectly to the world of the Special Olympics USA Games, where athletes with intellectual disabilities train and compete with that same dedication. Soccer, like Special Olympics, is more than just a game. It’s a community, a place where people of all abilities can find belonging, challenge themselves, and celebrate their accomplishments.
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Tony Sanneh, U.S. World Cup Player and CEO/Founder of The Sanneh Foundation
Stats About Soccer
24
participating teams
Nearly 250 athletes, Unified partners,
and coaches will be participating!
4
total events
We plan to offer traditional 5v5,
Unified 5v5, traditional 7v7, and Unified 7v7!
7
Special Olympics regions
Soccer ranks as a top 5 sport
in every Special Olympics region!
Schedule

Information regarding the schedule of soccer events will be published as we get closer to the 2026 USA Games. Be sure to check back here at a later date!

Results

The results of the soccer events will be posted here following the completion of each event. Be sure to check back here at a later date!

Scenes from Soccer
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