Definition of Futsal

While eleven-a-side, 90-minute football matches that are played in outdoor arenas might be the style that most fans are familiar with, there is a variation of the sport that remains quite popular. It's called futsal.

There are quite a few differences between regular football and futsal. It is played on a hard surface, with 2 teams of 5 players facing off against each other. Instead of walls or boards to bounce the ball off of, there are lines to mark where the ball goes out of play. Instead of 90 minutes, there are 2 periods of 20 minutes with stoppages at every dead ball. These are just some of the major differences between futsal and regular football.

The sport originated in Uruguay, with this form of the already highly-popular football being practiced on basketball courts. It spread throughout South America almost immediately, becoming very popular thanks to the ability to be played almost anywhere with a smaller number of people. It remains most popular in South America to this day thanks to this widespread appeal and ability to be played by even the poorest members of society.

FIFA does not officially recognise any sort of ranking for countries futsal teams, but according to one Elo-based ranking system there is a sort of unofficial ranking. Brazil, Spain, Argentina, Russia and Portugal make up the top five. Then it gets interesting, with Iran and Kazakhstan making up the next two; countries that are not typically regarded as highly skilled in regular football.

Futsal isn't as popular as regular football and likely will never become so. However, it remains a way for more people to enjoy a form of the sport on more flexible grounds while adapting to these new conditions.