At long last, with thanks to support from the likes of Wayne Rooney and Ronaldino, Futsal is taking off in the UK. We have been very slow to adapt to this skillful variation of Association Football, which has been dominated by Brazil, and more recently, Spain.
Futsal is by no means new. In fact the essence of the game started way back in 1930 in Uruguay, although it was not actually called ‘Futsal’ until the term was coined by FIFUSA in 1985. Since then, several rule changes and improvements have been made, especially following FIFA’s takeover of the World Championships in 1989.
So What Is ‘Futsal’?
There are 5 players on each team, including the goalkeeper. The maximum number of substitutes allowed is 7, with unlimited substitutions during the match. Substitutes can come on even when the ball is in play.
The match is controlled by a referee, who enforces the Laws of the Game, and is assisted by a second referee. There is also a third referee and a timekeeper.
The pitch is normally made up of wood or artificial material, although any flat, smooth and non-abrasive material may be used. The size of the pitch varies from 38–42m long and 18–25m wide in international matches. Localised match pitches are often smaller than this (from 25m long and 15m wide). The ceiling must be at least 4m high and the goal posts at either end are 3m wide and 2m high.
Futsal is played with a smaller ball (size 3 or 4) with less bounce than a regular football to encourage ball-control and creativity during game play, such as this Fair Trade Futsal Ball from Fair Corp.
A standard match consists of two equal halves of 20 minutes. The length of either half can be extended to allow penalty kicks to be taken or a direct free kick to be taken against a team that has committed more than 5 fouls.
The essence of game play in Futsal is speed, skill, ball-control and fair play. Aggressive tackling is strongly discouraged, and always penalised.
You can find a full set of the FIFA rules for Futsal on the FIFA website.