All you need to know about Futsal
A damaging dispute between top players and the Danish Football Association over commericial rights could see the Danes field a team comprising over futsal players for the Nations League game against Wales on Sunday next.
SO WHAT EXACTLY IS FUTSAL?
Well, it derives from the Spanish “futbol sala” or “futbol de salon,” and is a variation of association football.
It is played mainly indoors on a hard court with lines marked out, but unlike in five-a-side soccer, walls or boards are not used. The ball used is smaller than in an 11-a-side game and does not bounce as much, which contributes to the game seen as encouraging ball control and accurate passing in confined spaces.
HOW BIG IS THE PITCH AND HOW MANY PLAYERS IN A TEAM?
The pitch normally comprises an artificial surface or is made of wood. The usual length of a futsal pitch is around 40 metres, with a width of between 20 and 25 metres. The length of a normal soccer pitch must be between 90 and 120 metres, with a width of not less than 45 metres. Futsal teams consist of five players per side, including a goalkeeper, while unlimited substitutions are allowed.
WHERE AND WHEN WAS THE GAME INVENTED?
Futsal’s origins can be traced back to Uruguay 88 years ago when a five-a-side version of soccer was created and played on a basketball-sized court. It grew in popularity throughout South America, with a first international competition taking place in 1965 – the South American Cup – that was won by Paraguay.
Brazil then became the sport’s dominant force, winning the Pan American Cup in 1980, and they also took futsal’s first world championship, staged in Sao Paulo two years later. Holland won the first futsal World Cup seven years later, with Argentina the current holders.
WHAT ARE FUTSAL PLAYERS’ STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES?
Successful futsal players must have a mastery of close control, given the pitch size, and speed and firmness of pass is another required trait. Communication is also key, while zonal defending is important in most futsal coaching manuals. In terms of weaknesses, fitness can be an issue for players when they start, given futsal’s fast-moving nature. Sprinting prowess over short distances is seen as an integral fitness requirement.
HAVE ANY FAMOUS FOOTBALLERS HAVE PLAYED FUTSAL?
A number of soccer’s biggest names can be counted among those who have played futsal. Barcelona and Argentina star Lionel Messi, multiple winner of FIFA’s Ballon d’Or, started out as a street futsal player with Newell’s Old Boys, while the sport has also been graced by the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar, Ronaldinho and Juninho.