What Is Futsal?

Futsal, an indoor sport, is a form of a small-sided soccer game. The sport is officially recognised by FIFA as an indoor soccer-based game and is played between two teams of five players, each on a small pitch roughly the size of a basketball court. Compared to a soccer ball, the ball used for Futsal is low-bounce and smaller in size. 

It is an interesting sport based on the art of control, thinking on the feet, and quick decision-making. In many countries, Futsal is regarded as a development tool for regular football.

Want to learn more? Here is a quick guide to Futsal, its history, format, and current status worldwide.

History of Futsal

In 1930, Juan Carlos Ceriani, an Uruguayan teacher, developed a sport like a football to be played on a basketball court, which later became Futsal. Juan Carlos wrote down the rules for the sport, writing down team sizes to be five members each, whereby the match duration was 40 minutes. The goal dimensions and pitch layout were similar to handball, while the rules for the goaltender were based on water polo.

In no time, the sport’s popularity spread across South America, and consequently, the rules for the game were standardised. In 1965, the first international confederation for Futsal was formed, while in 1989, FIFA assumed charge of the sport’s official body and organised the first World Cup in the same year in the Netherlands. Brazil was the winner of the first edition.

In 1999, the first UEFA Futsal Tournament was held in Spain, where Russia lifted the finals trophy. Eight teams participated in the event in the first edition of the championship. In present times, the number of participant countries in the tournament has increased to 16, while 50 countries were a part of the qualifying rounds. 

UEFA Futsal Cup for the clubs was launched in 2001. It is now called the UEFA Futsal Champions League and is one of the most significant sporting events fitting in with professional contests in the region. 

Futsal Game Format

As explained earlier, Futsal is played between two teams of five players. One squad has 14 players. One player in the playing layout is a goalkeeper, one plays as a defender who is the last man ahead of the goalkeeper, one player is the winger, who plays in offence and defence, one is a pivot or the goal scorer, and the last player is the universal who performs different outfield roles. The maximum number of substitutions in the game is nine, and substitutes can come even when the ball is in play. The match is discontinued if one team has three or fewer players on the field. 

The game duration is 40 minutes and divided into two parts of 20 minutes. The maximum field size is 42m x 25m, while the minimum field size can be 25m x 16m. The Futsal field is made of wood or smooth, flat, or non-abrasive material. The Futsal ball weighs between 14 and 16oz while its size or circumference is 62-64m. 

Penalties and free-kicks are similar to regular football. However, if a team commits five fouls in one half, their opponent is granted a free shot from the second penalty mark for every subsequent foul. If the committed foul is near the goal, the opponent can take the free shot from where the infraction took place. The foul count becomes void at half-time; however, if extra time is granted, second-half fouls are still counted.

If the ball touches the ceiling or goes over the touchline during the match, play will continue with a kick-in, but players cannot score directly from the kick-in. If the ball goes over the byline, the keeper throws the ball for goal clearance, or it results in a corner.

The goalkeeper cannot control the ball for more than four seconds, and players also have four seconds to restart for goal clearance, free kicks, corner kicks, or kick-ins.

Futsal Governing Bodies & Leagues

The governing bodies for Futsal are FIFA and AMF (Asociación Mundial de Fútsal). AMF is the successor of the original Futsal governing body and is an alliance of countries to organise Futsal tournaments across the world. AMF and FIFA do not work together, but the AMF regards itself as an auxiliary body of FIFA. Countries from Europe, North and South America, Asia, Africa, and Oceania are its members.

Futsal does not have official rankings like football, but the team with the highest points is Brazil, having won five World Cups. Spain is second in terms of points, with seven men’s senior UEFA titles and two World Cups. Spain’s women’s teams have also won two European Championships in 2019 and 2022 and men’s U-19 Euro Championships in 2019 and 2022.

Portugal won the World Cup in 2021 and the Euro Cup in 2018 and 2022. Other prominent players include Russia, Italy, Argentina, Iran, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine. Many prominent soccer players, including Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Philippe Coutinho, Neymar, and Wissam Ben Yedder, played Futsal before playing 11-sided football.

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