What is Futsal?

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 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.

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.

Traditional 5-a-SideFutsalEleven-a-Side
Five players on court - limited substitutions.Five players on court - rolling substitutionsEleven 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.

The Laws of the Game

Here are the latest Laws of the Game (Fifa.com). It includes all the correct dimensions and markings for play fields.

Futsal Court Dimensions and Layout - Click for the full sized version

Futsal Court Dimensions and Layout – Click for the full sized version

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.

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.

Futsal in Australia

In Australia, indoor soccer was introduced by Mrs. Dawn Gilligan in 1971, during a particularly wet winter when outdoor grounds were closed for long periods of time. The Revesby YMCA in Sydney was the first place where it was played and from there it spread to the others YMCA’s.

In 1977 the Australian Indoor Soccer Association was created. In 1979 they affliated with FIFUSA and started to play with the official rules of futbol sala, one of the original forms of Futsal.

The peak of indoor soccer in Australia occurred in the 80s with a televised National League and the 1988 FIFUSA World Cup in Melbourne. When in 1989 FIFA took over the sport and baptized it as Futsal, the Australian Indoor Soccer Association changed its name to Australian Futsal Association.

Australia was one of the few countries in the world that had participated in all of the world cups until 2008 (where they did not qualify after moving from OFC to AFC) and it is estimated to have 18,000 registered players and 120,000 social participants in Futsal competitions all over the country.

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