Futsal is FIFA's official indoor soccer game which is, essentially, a scaled down version of outdoor soccer played indoors. It is a small sided game (5v5) played on a smaller field (roughly basketball court sized) with a smaller (size 3-4) ball. Futsal is played with touchline boundaries. There are no walls in play. This is the game that outdoor soccer players around the globe play when they are indoors to refine and maintain their control skills and touch.
The game is frequently referred to as Five-A-Side. Once Ceriani got the ball rolling, Futsal gained rapid popularity throughout South America, particularly in Brazil. The skill developed in this game is visible in the world-famous style the Brazilians display outdoors on the full-sized field. Pele, Zico, Socrates, Bebeto and other Brazilian superstars developed their skill playing Futsal. While Brazil continues to be the Futsal hub of the world, the game is now played, under the auspices of FIFA, all over the world, from Europe to North and Central America and the Caribbean, South America, Africa, and Asia and Oceania.
The first international competition took place in 1965, when Paraguay won the first South American Cup. Six more South American Cups were held through 1979, with Brazil winning all of them. Brazil continued its dominance with a victory in the first Pan American Cup in 1980 and won it again the next time it was played in 1984. A U.S. team took part in the 1984 cup, but finished out of the running.
The U.S. Futsal Federation was incorporated in January, 1983. Osvaldo Garcia was the first president The game originally was referred to as Minisoccer and then became known by its official international name, Futsal. The current federation president is Alexander J.C. Para.
The first Futsal World Championship conducted under the auspices of FIFUSA (before its members integrated into FIFA in 1989) was held in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in 1982, with Brazil finishing in first place. The Brazilians repeated as champions at the second World Championship in 1985 in Spain, but lost in the third World Championship in 1988 in Australia to Paraguay. FIFA took over direct sponsorship of the event in 1989 in Holland and 1992 in Hong Kong. Brazil won both times. The U.S. Futsal (Indoor Team), finished third in 1989 and second in 1992. The highest showing by any team from the United States in a FIFA tournament until the U.S. Women's team won the gold medal in China for outdoor soccer. The Third FIFA World Futsal Championship was be held November 24 through December 11, 1996 in Spain.
The first international Futsal match in the United States was held in December, 1985, at Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park, Calif. The U.S. select team, defeated Australia, 9-5.
U.S. Futsal has conducted a National Championship each year since 1985. Futsal is establishing itself at the youth level in the U.S. The Boys and Girls Clubs of America took a strong interest after the Columbia Park Club in San Francisco asked the Federation to give a demonstration. The national organization adopted the sport, and it is now played at about 1,100 Boys and Girls Clubs throughout the U.S.
The U.S. Youth Soccer Association (USYSA) and U.S. Futsal signed an agreement in August of 1995, to promote Futsal in all National State Associations under the auspices of U.S. Futsal. Massachusetts was the first state to sign an agreement with U. S. Futsal.
As an offensive Futsal player, there are no walls to save errant passes. There are no walls to stop long balls. There are no walls to rebound errant shots. There are no walls against which to pin the ball or your opponent. There are no walls to help you if you lack the feinting skills to beat a defender. There are no walls to save you if your teammates are not moving into space to support you. In general, you must control the ball, use proper touch and technique, use correct pace, send accurate service, and truly work dynamic combinations.
As a Futsal defender, you can 'face up' on an oncoming player just like in outdoor soccer (there is no wall pass to beat you). You can let errant passes go out of bounds to win the ball (the proper result of your opponent's faux-pas). Goalies and defenders can concentrate on proper shot blocking angles. You do not need to worry about long overhead balls which should go out of bounds. You can drive an oncoming player into the side to break up break-aways or outnumbered breaks. In general, you can practice and perfect the defensive techniques which apply to outdoor soccer. You don't waste time working on defending against phantom players (i.e. walls).
Compared to walled soccer or large indoor field soccer, Futsal places a greater premium on ball control. There is no reward for errant passes because the other team gets the ball. There is no reward for errant shots because the other team gets the ball. There is no incentive to 'kick and run' because the field is too small and packed with players. Players with the ball must use proper technique to maintain control and must seek out other players in space. Players without the ball must move to 'real' space and must truly support their teammates.
With Futsal, the emphasis is clearly on control and technique. Without control and technique you cannot expect to succeed in Futsal. And, if US players are to be more successful in the international arena, it is clear that we must better train and prepare our youth on proper technique. Playing indoor soccer in a hockey rink just does not make sense to any serious development program. If you are serious about skills and technique development, Futsal is the superior activity. Futsal promotes better technique and develops skills more rapidly. And if you are serious about the quality of the time you spend playing or watching soccer games, Futsal is clearly better.