Futsal is a form of fast flowing five-a-side football that allows the promotion of individual close ball skills. These skills are developed through an increased number of touches and reduced amount of space, demanding players to have heightened reflexes and make rapid in game decisions.
The game has been designed to promote the use of attacking flair, providing an intense, all-action game that allows players to be at their most creative.
Futsal can be traced back to 1930, originating in the capital of Uruguay, Montevideo, where school teacher Juan Carlos Ceriani developed an adaptation of football to be played recreationally at local YMCAs.
The original game was established to be played on basketball-sized courts, indoors and without the use of sidewalls. Spreading fast across South America, the first rulebook was published in 1936 in the true home of Futsal - Sao Paulo, Brazil.
In its early stages, the game helped to develop a whole host of football greats including Zico, Socrates, Bebeto and the legend Pele - who learned his trade through Futsal. Pele’s electrifying play developed by futsal saw him reach the Brazil national team at the age of 16, going on to become the first and only player to win three FIFA World Cups in 1958, 1962 and 1970.
With the help of the Brazilian superstars, the popularity of then called Futebol de Sala - which can be translated simply to ‘indoor football’ - grew worldwide. This led to its first international competition, the South American Cup, taking place in 1965 with Paraguay taking the trophy home. The South American Cup continued with six more tournaments before 1979: Brazil won all six.
The game then left South America and spread worldwide, allowing the first FIFUSA World Championship in 1982, with the governing body being taken over by FIFA in 1989. FIFA took over Futebol de Sala, abbreviated its name to ‘Futsal,’ and organised the first FIFA Futsal World Championship in the same year. This allowed Futsal to become the only five-a-side version of the sport that FIFA supports.
Under FIFA’s authority new rules were introduced to develop the technical aspects and speed of the game. The ball was replaced for a slightly larger size four ball, with added weight to reduce bounce. Substitutions could be made at any point and were made unlimited; linesmen were exchanged for a second referee.
The FIFA Futsal World Championship has now grown from its original size of 16 nations to 24 nations, with 47 different nations entering the qualifying stages making the 2016 FIFA Futsal World Cup the biggest in its 30-year period. The next FIFA Futsal World Cup will be staged in Lithuania in 2020.
Futsal has also had a hand in developing footballing superstars, with the top three from the 2009, 2011, 2015 and 2017 Ballon D’or awards Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Xavi (2009 and 2011) and Neymar (2015 and 2017) all starting their football careers playing in futsal.
Futsal is now gaining speed in England and with the launch of The FA’s ‘Fast Forward with Futsal’ Strategy, the England Men’s Futsal team aim to establish itself in the top 20 of the FIFA Futsal world rankings by 2024, alongside an England Women’s Futsal team competing in the UEFA Women’s Futsal Championships in 2021.
Follow Manchester FA’s social media accounts to watch the progress of #FutsalFeb for opportunities to get involved in Futsal in Manchester.