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A Deafie’s Guide to Soccer’s Biggest Event: World Cup 2018

deaf soccer

Fans are getting ready to celebrate their love of soccer with the biggest soccer event that exists; World Cup 2018!

Like the Olympics, this event only comes around every four years, so from now until mid-July, expect most people to be glued to their TVs, computers, or mobile devices to stream the tournament. (Note: Work productivity may decline briefly) Or for some people, like me, we’ll be right in the action. It’s one event that brings people together from all over the world to share their love for and take part in the beautiful game!

This year’s World Cup is taking place in Russia across 11 of its cities. The country’s capital, Moscow, alone expects to draw in over 1 million attendees from all over the world over the course of the tournament.

While we’ll be rooting for our home country’s team on game day, or in the case of the United States, we’ll be cheering for our next favorite team, we’re excited to have a safe, engaging, and entertaining tournament, complete with subtitles, sign language, and hearing protection. We’re taking on one of the world’s largest sporting events from a deafie’s point of view.

Watching the Game in Person at One of Eleven Russian Host Stadiums or at FIFA Fan Fest

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There’s nothing like seeing a game in person or being a part of FIFA’s well known Fan Fest experiences, but that goes without saying that it can get rowdy and loud!

According to the FIFA Stadium Code of Conduct, vuvuzelas, the infamous horns made popular during the 2010 South African World Cup games are NOT allowed in the stadiums. But have no fear Russians have prepared an instrument for this event – wooden spoons. President Vladimir Putin even allotted a million rubles to “modernize” these percussion instruments from Ancient Rus’.

In the past, World Cup games have been considered some of the loudest games in the history of sports with many hitting near the 100 dB mark. Luckily, many of the host stadiums this year are on the smaller side with a capacity of 35-45 thousand people. The largest stadium is in Moscow at 80,000. The energy and passion from fans, however, will be in full force, so it’s advised that you take the necessary precautions to protect your ears!

Read more: How to recognise and protect yourself from dangerous sounds

Find yourself some earplugs! I promise, your ears will thank you during the next day when there’s no ringing going on. You can get your basic run of the mill earplugs, or if you’re feeling fancy (a la musician style), you can get plugs with frames and ear molds to fit your ears perfectly.

A more accessible World Cup!

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Since the networks that showcase the World Cup games are different across all countries, FIFA has been working hard to make World Cup 2018 accessible for all.

FIFA will be creating and promoting 64 match report videos in International Sign Language. Essentially, these will be game highlights and can be found on These videos will be available online about three hours after each game. This service is not to promote FIFA sponsors but to give the deaf and hard of hearing community the opportunity to receive the same information as hearing people.

In the United States, FOX Sports will be the main provider for watching games on TV or online at Fox Sports offers closed captioning through both platforms, so deaf and hard of hearing people can enjoy the games.

Playing Joga Bonito (Beautiful Game)

deaf soccer

There’s a reason soccer is the world’s most beloved sport. All it requires is a ball-like object, a flat-ish surface, and some teammates/competitors. Perhaps you’ll be inspired to play the game after watching the tournament (in fact, I encourage it!). It is a wonderful team sport, but as with any contact sport, there are some dangers that come with it.

Most injuries in soccer are knee, leg, ankle, and foot related, but since there is no padding, aside from shin guards, there are the occasional head bumps and concussions. We all know that with concussions there is the possibility for severe head trauma (or TBI) and with that, there is the possibility of onset hearing loss.

“This can be the result of damage to the tiny bones in the middle ear or a fracture of the inner ear or cochlea,” according to “Even if the hearing in the ear itself is not damaged, a person with TBI can have a loss of hearing that is caused by the way sound is processed in the brain.”

Remember to wear shin guards, play by the rules, and avoid head-on-head collisions when possible. Should you go up for a header or hit your head hard some other way, please be sure to get everything checked out!

As a side note, if you wear hearing aids, remember there is a possibility of them falling out when running or if you make contact with someone. Headgear or a headband is one way to keep them intact, but otherwise, go out there and kick some grass!

Deaf culture and soccer

Whether you’re a soccer fanatic or you’re new to the world of soccer, there are some interesting things of note in regards to deaf culture and soccer.

There are no deaf players in the upcoming tournament (that I know of), but there is one player that has been making headlines recently, Simon Ollert. Ollert is a brand ambassador for Sonova and plays for the German professional team, SV Pullach.

Read more: Simon Ollert to host second soccer camp for children with hearing loss

There have been a number of deaf and hard of hearing players in the past including Ian Redford, Jimmy Case, Cliff Bastin, and Rodney Marsh. Additionally, many countries have fully deaf and hard of hearing teams that compete in the Deaflympics and Deaf World Cup. All of these players perfectly prove that #hearinglosswontstopus.

Show us your team spirit on social media by decorating your hearing aids with your team’s colors! Remember to use #phonak!

Tune in starting June 14th for a month-long adventure of rowdiness and the best in sport! I may even give you an update on my adventures in Moscow!

Author Details
Ashley is a 29-year-old who loves to travel and try new things. She has bi-lateral, severe hearing loss, and wears a Phonak Naída V-SP hearing aid in one ear and has an Esteem implant in the other. She plays soccer for the USA Women’s National Deaf Team. She’s currently traveling the world in pursuit of adventure and perspective while also learning about the deaf and hard of hearing communities in various countries. Her travels can be followed on instagram @ashley5chanel or on her blog