History of the Game

Futsal is a variant of soccer that is played on a smaller field (court in futsal terms) and most often played indoors. Its name is derived from the Portuguese, futebol de salão and the Spanish, fútbol de salón (colloquially fútbol sala), which can be translated as “hall football” or “indoor football”. During the sport’s second world championships held in Madrid in 1985, the name fútbol de salón was used. Since then, all other names have been officially and internationally changed to futsal.

The origins of futsal can be traced back to Uruguay in 1930, where amid the euphoria that greeted the country’s victory at the inaugural FIFA World Cup on home soil, there was a football being kicked on every street corner in their capital, Montevideo.

founder of futsal

Juan Carlos Ceriani, an Argentinean physical education instructor living there at the time, observed many youngsters practicing football on basketball courts owing to the shortage of football pitches.  It was there and then that the idea for a five-a-side variation came about.

Borrowing from the rules of water polo, handball and basketball, Ceriani drew up the original rules of game, which were quickly adopted across South America.  It became especially popular in Brazil, where a similar form of street soccer had already caught on.  Rules for the new sport were first published in Brazil in 1936

In 1965, the Confederacion Sudamericana de Futbol de Salon (South American Futsal Confederation) was formed, consisting of Uruguay, Paraguay, Peru, Argentina and Brazil.  That same year, the first international competition took place, with Paraguay winning.

Six  more South American Cups were held through 1979, with Brazil winning all of them.

The sport spread across South America, and its popularity ensured that a governing body was formed under the name of FIFUSA (Federación Internacional de Fútbol de Salón) in 1971.  The members at that time were, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, Peru, Protugal, Uruguay and Argentina.

Futsal crossed the Atlantic to Europe along with the many Spanish and Portuguese immigrants returning from South America at that time. The continued growth in the sport then led to the foundation of FIFUSA, the Federacion Internacional de Futbol de Salon (International Futsal Federation), comprising of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal and Uruguay.

The first Futsal World Championship conducted under the FIFUSA 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 control of the World Championships in 1989.  Under new rules made by FIFA, the technical aspects of the game for players and spectators were improved.  The linesmen were replaced with a second referee, and there were unlimited substitutions.  It also introduced a size 4 football, which was weighted to reduce bounce by 30% compared to a conventional ball.  The new ball enabled faster play and, for the first time, scoring goals with the head was introduced.

Canada vs Panama Futsal FIFA’s participation allowed more countries to gain knowledge and resources about futsal.  FIFA soon began to administer its own indoor football games, hosting its first FIFA Indoor Soccer World Championship in 1989 in Rotterdam, Netherlands. With Brazil crwoned as the first World Champions.  In Hong Kong, 1992, ithe Championship was called the FIFA Five-a-Side World Championship.  Since Spain of 1996, it has been called the FIFA Futsal World Championship.  The Seleção also won the those Championships.

Due to the increase of the number of nations that participated in the FIFA Futsal World Championships held in 2000, Brazil’s dominance in the competition was ended.  It would be the Spaniards who relieved the Brazilians of their crown, and then successfully defending it four years later in Chinese Taipei.  In the 2008 Cup, Brazil extracted revenge on Spain and repeated as champions at the 2012 World Cup in Thailand when the competition was expanded from 20-24 teams. Argentina would break the Brazilian/Spaniard duopoly with a 5-4 victory over Russia in 2016 in Colombia. The 2020 Futsal World Cup will be held in Lithuania.

Futsal will inevitably be in the Olympic Games. The 2018 Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires included a U18 national team tournament with Brazil winning the boy’s competition while Portugal won gold in the women’s division.