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What is Futsal?

What is Futsal?

Futsal is FIFA's official indoor game. It is small sided (5v5), played on a smaller pitch (roughly basketball court sized) and with a smaller ball.

Futsal is the only form of indoor soccer endorsed by FIFA. It earned the status of FIFA’s official form of indoor soccer in the 1980s as it was recognized as a scaled down version of outdoor soccer played indoors. It is a 5 v 5 small-sided game played on a hard surfaced, basketball sized court with a smaller, heavier low bounce ball. Futsal is played with touchline boundaries and without walls.

This is the game that outdoor soccer players around the globe play to refine and maintain their control skills and touch. It is superior to walled soccer in terms of developing better skills and technique. In traditional American walled soccer, players regularly whack the ball (and sometimes their bodies) against the boards which promotes improper technique and too often rewards errant play. In futsal, players are constantly reminded to play the same quality control game that is required for success in the outdoor game.

The UEFA Guide to Futsal

Futsal is the only "Official form of Indoor Soccer" as approved by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association FIFA. It is played in all the continents of the world by over 100 countries with 12 million players. Futsal is played on a gymnasium hard-wood floor or all-purpose sports flooring. The game does not require the use of expensive dasher boards, as do other versions of indoor soccer, therefore making it a very economical and safe sport.

The sport is a great skill developer as it demands quick reflexes, fast thinking, pin-point passing. The small, heavier futsal ball requires players to hone their ball-striking and ball handling technique. Great soccer superstars such as Pele, Zico, Ronaldo, Messi, Kaka and Katia grew up playing the game and credit futsal with developing their skills. 

Futsal Is Not New

Futsal is the new rage in American soccer. However, as is often the case, the US is just catching on to what the world already knows. Superior soccer skill is built by simulating the outdoor game indoors with small sided games and a smaller ball. World famous clubs such as Ajax have used this approach for years. Futsal has been around for over fifty years but US interest in soccer skill development has only recently focused attention on the training techniques used in successful soccer powerhouses such as Brazil, Holland, Germany, France, and Italy. Futsal has been around for many years but interest is just starting to explode in the United States.

History of the Game

Futsal is a variant of soccer that is played on a smaller field (court in futsal terms) and most often played indoors. Its name is derived from the Portuguese, futebol de salão and the Spanish, fútbol de salón (colloquially fútbol sala), which can be translated as "hall football" or "indoor football". During the sport’s second world championships held in Madrid in 1985, the name fútbol de salón was used. Since then, all other names have been officially and internationally changed to futsal.
 
The origins of futsal can be traced back to Uruguay in 1930, where amid the euphoria that greeted the country’s victory at the inaugural FIFA World Cup on home soil, there was a football being kicked on every street corner in their capital, Montevideo.
 
Juan Carlos Ceriani, an Argentinean physical education instructor living there at the time, observed many youngsters practicing football on basketball courts owing to the shortage of football pitches.  It was there and then that the idea for a five-a-side variation came about.
 
Borrowing from the rules of water polo, handball and basketball, Ceriani drew up the original rules of game, which were quickly adopted across South America.  It became especially popular in Brazil, where a similar form of street soccer had already caught on.  Rules for the new sport were first published in Brazil in 1936
 
In 1965, the Confederacion Sudamericana de Futbol de Salon (South American Futsal Confederation) was formed, consisting of Uruguay, Paraguay, Peru, Argentina and Brazil.  That same year, the first international competition took place, with Paraguay winning.
Six  more South American Cups were held through 1979, with Brazil winning all of them.  
 
The sport spread across South America, and its popularity ensured that a governing body was formed under the name of FIFUSA (Federación Internacional de Fútbol de Salón) in 1971.  The members at that time were, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, Peru, Protugal, Uruguay and Argentina.
Futsal crossed the Atlantic to Europe along with the many Spanish and Portuguese immigrants returning from South America at that time. The continued growth in the sport then led to the foundation of FIFUSA, the Federacion Internacional de Futbol de Salon (International Futsal Federation), comprising of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal and Uruguay.

The first Futsal World Championship conducted under the FIFUSA was held in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in 1982, with Brazil finishing in first place.  The Brazilians repeated as champions at the second World Championship in 1985 in Spain, but lost in the third World Championship in 1988 in Australia to Paraguay. 
 
FIFA took control of the World Championships in 1989.  Under new rules made by FIFA, the technical aspects of the game for players and spectators were improved.  The linesmen were replaced with a second referee, and there were unlimited substitutions.  It also introduced a size 4 football, which was weighted to reduce bounce by 30% compared to a conventional ball.  The new ball enabled faster play and, for the first time, scoring goals with the head was introduced.
 
FIFA’s participation allowed more countries to gain knowledge and resources about futsal.  FIFA soon began to administer its own indoor football games, hosting its first FIFA Indoor Soccer World Championship in 1989 in Rotterdam, Netherlands. With Brazil crwoned as the first World Champions.  In Hong Kong, 1992, ithe Championship was called the FIFA Five-a-Side World Championship.  Since Spain of 1996, it has been called the FIFA Futsal World Championship.  The Seleção also won the those Championships.

Due to the increase of the number of nations that participated in the FIFA Futsal World Championships held in 2000, Brazil’s dominance in the competition was ended.  It would be the Spaniards who relieved the Brazilians of their crown, and then successfully defending it four years later in Chinese Taipei.  In the 2008 Cup, Brazil extracted revenge on Spain.  The 2012 FIFA Futsal World Cup will be played in Thailand  and has expanded from 20 to 24 teams.  It is now the fourth longest-running FIFA tournament.