A geek’s guide to Futsal

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Also known as 5-a-side football, Futsal is a faster-paced game that seems never to stop. Similar to the rules of football yet with some notable exceptions; the beauty of futsal is its reliance on close ball control, flair, technical skill and spatial awareness, making it an exhilarating game to watch.

The origins of futsal

Futsal's roots are traced back to Montevideo, Uruguay in 1930 when Juan Carlos Ceriani, searching for a game to do for youth competition, devised a five-a-side version of football. Played on indoor and outdoor basketball-sized courts, players were not permitted to use the sidewalls when playing the ball.

Futsal gained rapid popularity throughout South America, particularly in Brazil where the country remains the beating heart of futsal. Globally, the game is now played in all continents and continues to grow, especially with its emphasis to develop younger players skills in preparation for future football matches.

Rules of futsal

Two teams of five play futsal generally performed on an indoor flat field (which is actually an indoor court). Significantly a much smaller ball is used to minimise bounce, allowing for a high passing game that encourages and fosters flair and creative play.

Division1 match between Bardral Urayasu 3-1 Shonan Bellmare Division1 match between Bardral Urayasu 3-1 Shonan Bellmare

The play is played to the touchlines, with all players permitted to enter the penalty area and play the ball over head height. Futsal matches have two 20-minute halves, with time-outs allowed.

A futsal ‘field’ is an indoor court with a length of 38-42 metres to a width of 20-25 metres, with two hickey sized goals at each end.

The winning team is the one that scores more goals than the opposition, much like football.

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Differences between football and futsal

Although both are games played with players feet, there are several differences between football and futsal:

  1. Football is played outdoors on a football pitch. Futsal is played on an indoor 'field.' Since football is played outdoors, the pitch size is much larger than an indoor futsal field.
  2. Within a football match, each team are permitted three substitutions, whilst within futsal, there are unlimited substitutions.
  3. Football uses the term "throw in" when the ball needs to re-enter play, Futsal uses the term "kick-in."
  4. Football uses a running clock whilst futsal uses a stop clock.
  5. Football uses the term "goal kick" whilst futsal uses "goal clearance."
  6. Whilst unlimited back passes are permitted in a game of football, only one back pass to the goalkeeper is allowed in Futsal games.
  7. In football, should a player be sent off (red-carded) then they are not allowed to be substituted. In futsal a player who is sent off the field is permitted to be replaced by another team player, keeping five players on the pitch.

Goalkeepers in futsal

Goalkeepers hold a unique role in futsal and are an integral part of the games play. To begin with, they have only four seconds to play the ball either with their feet or hands.

Furthermore, the goalkeeper is not permitted to touch the ball if played back to them by an outfield player more than once. The emphasis here is to avoid time-wasting like what occurs in football.

Grimsby Town score their fourth goal in the Soccer AM Futsal Cup Final Grimsby Town score their fourth goal in the Soccer AM Futsal Cup Final

Goalkeepers are also free to play anywhere on the pitch and throw the ball beyond the halfway line, but should the ball go into the goal then this is disallowed, and a goal clearance is given to the opposition team.

Goalkeepers can score directly with their feet if during the run of play. They are not allowed, however, to drop-kick the ball when kicking; they must ensure the ball is on the ground and no "air" under the ball when kicked.

Goalkeepers can be substituted as long as they are wearing a different colour jersey from outfield players.

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Fouls in futsal

All penalty fouls are recorded on a scoresheet and the scoreboard. If one team fouls the opposing team six times in one half, for that sixth foul and all subsequent fouls, the opposing team is awarded an 'accumulated fouls penalty kick' (AFPK).

Sporting Clube de Portugal received the Lions of Porto Salvo Sporting Clube de Portugal received the Lions of Porto Salvo

Within futsal there are two penalty spots:

Penalty Spot - 6 metres from the centre of the goal

Second Penalty Spot - 9 metres from the centre of the goal

If the foul is committed far from the attacking team's goal, the AFPK is taken from the second penalty spots. Should the infringement occur nearer to the goal but outside of the penalty area, then the attacking team can decide to take the free kick from either the second penalty spot or the place where the foul was committed. (Of course, all fouls within the penalty area will have a penalty at the penalty spot).

All AFPK's must be shot at goal by an identified kicker.

First Division of the National Championship of Futsal 2017/18. Red Card João Matos First Division of the National Championship of Futsal 2017/18. Red Card João Matos

Defending teams are not allowed to make a wall and not near the ball by at least The defending team may not make a wall and may not be nearer to the ball than 5 metres. Goalkeepers can come off their lines but again not more than 5 metres from the ball.

All accumulated fouls are reset to zero at the start of the second half.

With this geek’s guide to futsal, you should have enough to get started watching and betting on your first futsal match. If you can follow the fast-paced and technical game, you'll find yourself hooked on watching samba-style football matches with plenty of goal-scoring entertainment.

Words: David Bailey-Lauring

Images: PA

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