Futsal is growing in popularity in the U.S. with more traditional outdoor players taking up the game in colder months. Soccer365 looks at what players need to know before they hit the court and what gear they will need.


What is Futsal and why isn’t it just called Indoor Soccer?


Futsal is a style variation of association football played by 5-a-side teams on hard court (usually about the size of a basketball court). The name comes from the Spanish words fútbol sala or fútbol de salon which loosely translates as ‘indoor soccer’ (more accurately as hall/lounge football). The game was created in Uruguay by Juan Carlos Ceriani in 1930 at a local YMCA to provide a game to be played indoors or outdoors year round. It was based on soccer but pulled in aspects of basketball –number of players and game time, water polo – goalkeeper restrictions, and team handball – field and goal size. The game grew in popularity in South America before spreading around the globe.

Related: Why Buy Indoor Soccer Shoes?


What’s the lowdown on the game?


Futsal is a fast paced game between 2 teams each composed of 5 players (4 field players and a goalkeeper). Games last 40 minutes with 20 minute halves and a 15 minute break in between. The clock stops when the ball is out of play. A smaller, heavier ball is used in matches (more later). Unlike in outdoor soccer, there are unlimited substitutions which are made on-the-fly and each team is allowed 1 timeout per half.

Kick-ins rather than thrown-ins are used when the ball is played over the sideline.

Direct and indirect kicks are awarded for fouls. Teams have 4 seconds to restart play.

Persistent fouling is frowned upon with fouls resulting in direct kicks counting as ‘accumulated’ fouls. Once a team has committed 5 accumulated fouls in a half, additional fouls result in the opposing team being granted a ‘second penalty kick’ from 1om from goal.

Goalkeepers are the final line of defense but with the smaller field can be integral in the attack build-up. Goalkeepers can only possess the ball for 4 seconds and passbacks from field players are restricted (only allowed with after the opposing team touches the ball or the ball goes out of play) in their own half. Goalkeepers are not restricted when in the opposing half.

Red and yellow cards are used with red cards resulting in the player’s expulsion but his side only plays down a man for 2 minutes or until the other team scores.


What about Futsal Jerseys and Gear?


Field players are required to wearing matching jerseys with sleeves, shorts, socks, and shinguards. Rubber soled shoes are worn. The goalkeeper must wear a different color jersey and is allowed to wear long GK pants as well as elbow pads.


How does a Futsal Ball Differ from a Soccer Ball?


Futsal uses a Size 4 soccer ball with 30% less bounce than a soccer ball. The ball is required to have a circumference of between 62–64 cm and weight between 400-440g at the start of the game compared to a match soccer ball of between 68 cm (27 ins) – 70 cm (28 ins) and 410 g (14 oz) – 450 g (16 oz) in weight.

When dropped from a height of 2m, the first rebound for a futsal ball must not be lower than 50 cm or more than 65 cm.


What about Governing Bodies?


Futsal has 2 governing bodies. Asociación Mundial de Fútbol de Salón (AMF) is the successor to the original governing body (FIFUSA). The all-powerful Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) decided to get in on futsal in the mid 1980’s but never were able to shake hands a merger. This was spearheaded by then FIFA Secretary General Sepp Blatter with FIFA President Brazilian João Havelange, who was the head of FIFUSA from 1971 to 1974, pulling strings unsuccessfully.

Both federations host a World Cup.


Who are the best Futsal Teams?


Brazil is arguably the best national team(s) in the world with the men’s and women’s teams both winning multiple major championships. The men’s team has won 5 of 8 FIFA Futsal World Cups while the women’s team has won all 6 major tournaments. Spain has won 2 FIFA Futsal World Cups with Argentina claiming their first trophy at the 2016 tournament.

Colombia and Paraguay have won 3 FIFUSA/AMF World Cups each followed along with wins by Portugal and Venezuela. Brazil (2) and Argentina both won titles prior to affiliating with FIFA.


How ‘bout the USA?


The US team is controlled by US Soccer but has not had much luck lately. They failed to qualify for the last 2 FIFA Futsal World Cups (Colombia 2016 and Thailand 2012). The golden age for US futsal was in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s when the team finished 3rd and 2nd, respectively, at the World Cup those years.

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