FIFA Increases amount of teams at Futsal World Cup to 24!
As speculated for months, FIFA have finally announced that they will be increasing the total amount of teams for participation in the 2012 FIFA Futsal World Cup in Thailand to 24 teams! This is up from 20 that competed at the 2008 tournament in Brazil and is the second consecutive increase as Taipei hosted 16 teams during the 2004 championship.
What this may mean for Canada
This is huge news to say the least as it clearly proves that futsal is rapidly growing and that the sport has the faith (ie financial backing) from FIFA. Let’s hope that this translates into an increase of CONCACAF slots for the final tournament as our region currently sits with a 3 spot allocation in the competition. It is unlikely that it will be increased to 4, because of the strong strides made in European and African futsal (6 and 2 spots in 2008 respectively) in the last few years. However, being given an additional half spot (.5) in which the 4th place team at the 2012 CONCACAF Futsal Championships (we are being told Guatemala will host) would play a team from another confederation in a playoff would be substantially beneficial for Canada’s chances to qualify.
The current crop of top adult futsallers in Canada is as strong as it has ever been, with Ontario and Montreal being by far the top generators of elite futsal talent. Is that talent enough to take us over the hump into a tournament of this magnitude? Well first and foremost, we would have to get the funding from the CSA to even get to the continental competition.
Futsal Canada was told approximately two months ago by a top CSA official that there would be money to fund a team to compete at the CONCACAF Futsal Championships, but that there would not be enough for player identification camps, training camps, exhibition games and all the other necessary items required to get a team properly prepared. That would likely mean having another team of local Albertan soccer players without any real futsal experience being put together to compete. Of course, the Canadian futsal community has dealt with many empty promises in the past from the national association one of which was the assurance of money for the 2008 qualifying campaign. If the CSA keeps their word this time around, leagues in Ontario along with Montreal through Futsal Canada have already joined together for early 2011 in the form of F-PIC’s (futsal player identification camps) to get the best futsallers in the country training and learning with each other in hopes that the once in a lifetime opportunity arises.
This announcement and investment by FIFA should be seen as a huge signal of intent in moving towards an eventual 32 nation Futsal World Cup and as Caandians we should be all over it.