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What is Futsal – the world’s official five-a-side football?

It’s FIFA’s official form of five-a-side football and has been played around the world for many years, but what is Futsal?

What is Futsal?

The name ‘Futsal’, which comes from the Spanish phrase ‘futbol sala’, basically means ‘indoor soccer’. As such, FIFA’s official small-sided, fast-paced and exciting form of five-a-side football is generally played indoors.

Unlike the five-a-side game played around the UK on 3G pitches with boundary walls to bounce the ball off, in Futsal there are no walls, so you play to the lines, like in regular eleven-a-side. Futsal is also played on a firm court surface, the ball used has less bounce than a standard football and matches are 40 minutes long, played in ‘real-time’ with the clock stopping when the ball goes out of play.

Because the sport is a great skill developer, demanding good reflexes, quick-thinking, and sharp, accurate passing, it is an exciting game for children as well as adults. Futsal is played around the world and focuses on technical ability and has helped many a star player refine their skill and ball control.

Star Players

Around the world there are many professional Futsal leagues, with players who solely focus on the five-a-side form of the game. One of the biggest names in Futsal is Brazilian ace Falcao, a two-time FIFA Futsal World Cup winner and scorer of more than 1,000 goals in a club career that has seen him turn out for sides like Corinthians, São Paulo and Atlético Mineiro.

There’s also Ricardinho, the Portuguese trickster who has won the World Player of the Year three times.

However, a whole host of world stars of the eleven-a-side game also started of playing Futsal. Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo both honed their skills on the Futsal court.

“During my childhood in Portugal, all we played was futsal,” said five-time Champions League winner, Ronaldo. “The small playing area helped me improve my close control. Whenever I played futsal I felt free. If it wasn’t for futsal, I wouldn’t be the player I am today.”

But the list is almost endless, with football greats from South America and Southern Europe all regular Futsal players. Xavi Hernandez, David Villa, Robinho, Ronaldinho, Neymar and even the legendary Pele, grew up playing the small-side game.

Futsal v Football v Five a Side

So, what are the key differences between Futsal and other forms of football?

For a start, the pitch is smaller – usually 40m x 20m – and only five players – four, plus a goalkeeper – are on the pitch for each team at any one time. But there are many other subtle differences.

The ball is a size 4 for adults Futsal, and has 30 per cent less bounce than a standard football. Meanwhile the goals are 3m v 2m, similar to hockey goals.

Unlimited ‘flying’ substitutions are allowed in matches, with teams able to name up to 14 players for a game. Changes don’t have to be made during a stop in play.

If the ball goes out of play on the side of the pitch, play resumes from a kick-in, not a throw or roll, and players must re-start the game in four seconds.

If the ball goes out of play behind the goal, instead of taking a goal-kick, the keeper throws the ball to recommence play. Keepers are also limited to one back pass, and the ball must cross the half-way line, or be touched by an opponent, before the keeper can receive the ball again.

The clock also stops when the ball isn’t in play, so a 40 minute match – two halves of 20 minutes – will be 40 minutes long. Teams are also allowed one ‘time-out’ per half.

Players are not allowed to shoulder charges or slide tackle opponents and an accumulation of fouls will lead to a free-kick or a penalty. If a player is sent-off, they may be replaced by a substitute after two minutes, though the may join play sooner, if their team concedes a goal.

There are other amendments to the laws of the game, too, like no offsides, but in general Futsal is based around the same set of rules that we all know and love.

For the full Rules of Futsal, click here…

Want to learn to play Futsal? Well there are plenty of clubs and venue around the country offering up Futsal opportunities, including JBFC Football, based on the Essex and Suffolk border. Visit their website at www.JBFC.co.uk to find out how you can play Futsal in Colchester.