Did you know that Beach soccer is one of the fastest-growing sports in the world? While football is the king of sports worldwide, its variants, like Futsal and beach soccer, are also popular in their own right and have a huge following.
For a sport that was created just a few decades ago, beach soccer has become a major phenomenon in recent years and has grown exponentially in terms of popularity. It is why of the 208 member nations of FIFA, 120 member associations promote and support beach soccer at various levels.
In this regard, the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup is the most prestigious beach soccer tournament in the world. This article offers a detailed tournament description, history, and current status.
FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup History
Beach Soccer Worldwide, the organisation responsible for forming the rules of modern beach soccer as we know it today and overseeing the affairs of beach soccer, launched the Beach Soccer World Championship in 1995. The first tournament was held in Brazil, and eight teams participated in the event. Until 2004, the practice continued every year, and the event was held under the title Beach Soccer World Championship.
The last edition of the Beach Soccer World Championship took place in 2004. In 2005, FIFA joined Beach Soccer Worldwide and took over the event’s organisation, making it an international FIFA tournament.
FIFA continued the tradition of having the competition in Brazil, and twelve teams were invited to participate, continuing from the tournament held in 2004. The first edition of the World Cup under FIFA in 2005 was won by France, and the event was declared a huge success. Considering its popularity, the size of the pool was increased to 16, and the format was reformed, whereby it was established that qualifiers would be held throughout the year.
It was determined that the member confederations would set up a qualifying process through championships. The winners would be the best team in the region and proceed to play in the World Cup. The exception to the standard was Europe, which used the Euro Beach Soccer League as the basis of qualification for the World Cup until 2008.
In the coming years, the popularity of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup led to a growing interest from non-playing nations and drove more countries to acknowledge beach soccer as a major sport.
In 2008, the tournament was held outside Brazil and in France for the first time. It was also the first time Brazil, no longer the hosts, had to qualify for the tournament. The following year, the event moved to Dubai. The same year FIFA changed the tournament’s format, and it was decided that the event would be held every two years, and the next edition would be held in 2011.
It was a mutual decision that was made to allow member teams to have more time for developing the sport and being more prepared. Meanwhile, confederations could have time to organise tournaments at a local level and improve the quality of the sport.
The 2011 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup edition was held in Italy, and two years later, it was held in Tahiti, where Russia won.
FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Current Format and Status
The latest edition of the Beach Soccer World Cup was held in 2021 in Russia, and the hosts won. The current format of the tournament comprises a series of matches over ten days, and sixteen teams compete in groups of four.
The winners and runners-up of the groups proceed to the knock-out stage, leading to the finals. The teams losing in the semi-finals play against each other in the playoffs for third and fourth positions.
The next Beach Soccer World Cup is due in 2023 in the UAE, while the 2025 edition will take place in Seychelles.
FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Past Stats
During the previous years, the attendance of nations in the qualification tournaments for the World Cup has continued to rise every year, so much so that the number of participants since 2006 has doubled.
In the past, around 14 of the 39 participant nations have reached the top four positions, while four teams have won the title. Brazil has been the most successful of all the teams, winning five times. However, while Brazil was immensely successful in the earlier years, with four wins before 2010, the team’s success has dwindled in recent years. After Brazil, Russia is the most successful with three wins while Portugal and France have two and one wins respectively.