#KnowYourSports : WHAT IS FUTSAL?

#KnowYourSports : WHAT IS FUTSAL?

Futsal is an exciting, fast-paced small sided football game that is widely played across the world and is officially recognized by both UEFA and FIFA.

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Futsal is a format of five-a-side football that is played extensively throughout the world. The term ‘Futsal’ is an abbreviation of the Portuguese ‘futebol de salão’ or the Spanish ‘futbol sala’, both of which translated literally mean ‘indoor football’.It is played on a pitch approximately the size of a basketball or netball court with a ball which is smaller and heavier than the outdoor football and has a reduced bounce.

The nature of the game places a large emphasis on technical skill and ability in situations of high pressure, and is subsequently an excellent breeding ground for football competencies that can be translated into the 11-a-side format of the game.

The ball forces a player to use their skill rather than the ball’s bounce to propel it. As a small sided game, players are constantly placed in situations where they must receive or play whilst under pressure or in confined spaces.

Many of the top world class footballers played Futsal in their youth and credit it with supporting their footballing development; players of the calibre of Pele, Zico, Ronaldinho, Kaka, Lionel Messi to name but a few of the South American legends all played and enjoyed Futsal.  But Futsal has not just helped produce South American football stars, on the European stage Cristiano Ronaldo, Deco, Xavi, Fabregas amongst many others have played Futsal to develop their skills.

“Futsal was important in helping to develop my ball control, quick thinking, passing….also for dribbling, balance, concentration…. Futsal was very, very important, no doubt.” – Pele, World Cup Winner: 1958, 1962 & 1970

“Perhaps in regular football you cannot appreciate the talent. Everything is more physical. But in Futsal you have small details of quality, class and tactical aspects.”

Xavi FIFA World Cup and UEFA Champions League Winner

Futsal is a five-a-side game, normally played on a flat indoor pitch with hockey sized goals and a size 4 ball with a reduced bounce.  It is played to touchlines and all players are free to enter the penalty area and play the ball over head-height.  Games are 20 minutes per half, played to a stopping clock (similar to basketball) with time-outs permitted.

There are a number of differences to our traditional version of small sided football, but the dominant elements are the absence of rebound boards and amendments in the laws that encourage and foster skilful, creative play above the physical contact that tends to be a feature of English five-a-side.

The surface, ball and rules create an emphasis on improvisation, creativity and technique as well as ball control and passing in small spaces

 “Futsal….it makes you more composed on the ball and makes you want the ball more, so you can do something with it.”

Micah Richards England International

“Futsal is an extremely important way for kids to develop their skills and understanding of the game. My touch and my dribbling have come from playing Futsal”.

Ronaldinho FIFA World Footballer of the Year 2004 + 2005

The UEFA Graphical Guide to the Game

Playing Futsal allows you to touch the ball nearly twelve times more than playing football. The game places considerable demand on technique, movement, tactical awareness and fitness. Futsal is a great skill developer, demanding quick reflexes, fast thinking, and pinpoint passing. The speed of play is such that you are forced to make quicker technical and tactical decisions.

In an official championship games they are usually two referees officiating and  the third one acting as official time keeper. But in Junior and amateur games one referee is sufficient. The basic rules of football usually apply in Futsal but with significant differences

Traditional 5-a-Side Futsal Eleven-a-Side
Five players on court – limited substitutions. Five players on court – rolling substitutions Eleven players on pitch – maximum three substitutions
No By or End lines – use rebound boards. Ball constantly in play. Played to lines. Ball is returned to play with a kick-in. Played to lines. Ball returned to play with a throw-in.
Use of indoor or Astroturf pitch. Use of wider and longer indoor pitch. Use of outside grass pitch.
Only Goalkeepers permitted to enter penalty area. All players allowed to enter the penalty area. All players allowed to enter the penalty area.
Use of restriction to the height of the ball. No height restriction on ball. No height restriction on ball.
Use of rectangular goals. Use of football size 5 for adults. Use of square goals (3m by 2m) Use of size 4 Futsal ball (30% reduced bounce) Use of rectangular full-size goals. Use of football size 5 for adults.
Unlimited fouls. Five foul limit. No wall for direct free kick from 10m after fifth foul. Unlimited fouls.

Origin of the sport

Futsal is the abbreviation of the phrase Futebol de Salao (Portuguese) or Futbol Sala (Spanish). It means soccer in a large room. The name Futsal was adopted officially in 1989 as part of the FIFA’s marketing strategy to promote the game throughout the world and develop the sport.

Different forms of indoor soccer have been recorded as early as 1831 in Canada when people playing soccer were forced to play inside due to either rain or cold. The origin of modern Futsal has two versions. One version claims that the first rules book was written in 1933 by a coach from Uruguay named Juan Carlos Ceriari. The second version says that the sport was first played socially by a group of friends from Sao Paulo at the end of 1930 and the first rules book was published in 1936 in a physical education magazine from Brazil (Fonseca, 1997). Apart from the controversy of the origin of the sport, it is known that the sport was developed in Brazil and then spread to the 7 continents.

Evolution of the rules

The Futsal rules have been modified several times. The number of players have changed from 7 to 5, the goal size form 4m x 2m to 3m x 2m and the weight of the ball reached almost 1 kg before coming to 390 to 430 grams. Players were not allowed to score from inside the penalty area. This rule was changed in 1990 when the offside rule was abolished as well.

In 1971 the Federacao International de Salao (FIFUSA) was created. FIFA has unsuccessfully tried to take over the sport, thus creating “5 a side soccer” to fight FIFUSA. Finally in 1989 most of the countries agreed to combine the sports and it was given the name Futsal to represent all indoor soccer and five-a-side foolball games. Since then, there has been acceleration on the modifications of the rules due to FIFA’s policy to make the rules universal. In 1994 the throw in was replaced by the kick in, the penalty area changed from 4 to 6 metres and the keepers were allowed to play outside the “D”. FIFA aimed to make the sport exciting for players and supporters and they were extremely successful in their task.

Rules of Futsal are designed to be encourage safer and skillful play. The game is played between marked boundary lines which means players have to be more accurate in their passing, The absence of rebound walls means also contribute to greater safety of players. The main feature of the spot is the ball, which is size four. The ball has reduced bounce and  that means the ball can be more on the ground. It helps develop skills such as passing, dribbling, ball control and accurate shooting.

Futsal and Soccer/Football

As the Futsal ball has low bounce qualities it spends much more time on the floor which is excellent for development of skills and ball control. The smaller area in which the game is played demands quick decision making, movements off the ball and intensity.

Because of these characteristics, soccer coaches are starting to run Futsal sessions for juniors and even professional soccer teams. Famouse professional soccer players like Ronaldo, Juninho, Maradona, Rivelino and even the great Pele have already declared they played Futsal in their childhood.

Compared to soccer, Futsal demands more versatile players. The positions in Futsal are goalkeeper, pivot (the main defender), right flank, left flank and target (the main attacker). Despite the main role of each position, players have to perform different roles in a game because of the quick transition between attack and defense.

Futsal in as sport in its own right and if we compare it with other sports we will realize that its practice is really safe because slide tackling is not allowed. As these is limited player in the air, which causes jumping and bounding, there is less stress on the knees and ankles.

Futsal in the world

Nowadays Futsal is a sport played in more than 60 countries with professional leagues being played in many countries including Brazil, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Belgium, USA and Russia. FIFA has organized seven world cups: Netherlands/1989, Hong Kong/1992, Spain/1996, Guatemala/2000, Chinese Taipei/2004, Brazil/2008 and Thailand/2012.

FIFA has been injecting a lot of effort to develop Futsal around the world. As Futsal is such a dynamic sport, the directors of this powerful organization preview a huge popularity for the sport. They are dedicating special attention to legitimize it as an Olympic Sport.