What is futsal?
Everything you need to know about Futsal
Futsal, or Futsala, is a variant of association football played on a smaller field and mainly indoors. It can be considered a version of five-a-side football. Futsal is played between two teams of five players each, one of whom is the goalkeeper. Unlimited substitutions are permitted. Unlike some other forms of indoor football, the game is played on a hard court surface delimited by lines; walls or boards are not used. Futsal is also played with a smaller ball with less bounce than a regular football due to the surface of the field. The surface, ball and rules create an emphasis on improvisation, creativity, and technique as well as ball control and passing in small spaces.
"Futsal" started in 1930 when Juan Carlos Ceriani, a teacher in Montevideo, Uruguay, created a version of indoor football for recreation in YMCAs. This new sport was originally developed for playing on basketball courts and a rule book was published in September 1933. His goal was to create a team game that could be played indoor or outdoor but that was similar to football, which became quite popular there after Uruguay won the 1930 World Cup and gold medals in the 1924 and 1928 Summer Olympics.
Ceriani, writing the rule book, took as example the principles of football (the possibility to touch the ball with every part of the body except for the hands), but he took rules from other sports too: from basketball the number of team players (five) and the game duration (40 actual minutes); from water polo the rules about the goalkeeper; from team handball for the field and net’s sizes. The result is a lively, evolved, dynamic, active and supportive sport.
Summary of rules
Length of the field - minimum 25x16m, maximum 42x25m.
Ball - Size 4, circumference 62–64 cm, weight between 400-440g at the start of the game.
Time - There are two periods of 20 minutes with time stopping at every dead ball. Between the two periods there is a break of 15 minutes. Each team may use one time-out per half, which lasts one minute. Some lower leagues and tournaments use 24 minute periods with running time.
Number of players - There are five players for each team in the field, one of them as goalkeeper, and a maximum number of 12 players that can be used each match. Substitutions are unlimited and on-the-fly.
Fouls - All direct free kicks count as accumulated fouls. A direct free kick is awarded for kicking, tripping, charging, jumping, pushing, striking, tackling, holding, spitting, and deliberate handling. Indirect free kicks, such as playing dangerously and impeding, do not count as accumulated fouls. A team is warned by the referee when they commit five accumulated fouls in a half.
Cards - A yellow card is shown for unsporting behavior, dissent, time wasting, encroachment, persistent infringement, and illegal subbing. A red card is shown for serious foul play, violent conduct, spitting, illegally denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity, abusive language, and receiving a second yellow. Red carded players are ejected from the game and their team must play short for two minutes or until the other team scores a goal.
Free kicks - Taken from the spot of the infringement or on the line of the penalty area nearest the infringement (indirect only). All opponents must be at least 5m away from the ball. The kick must be taken within four seconds or an indirect kick is awarded to the other team.
Kick from the second penalty mark - Awarded when a team commits 6 or more accumulated fouls in a half. Second penalty mark is 10m from the goal, opponents must be behind the ball, goalkeeper must be at least 5m away
Penalty kick - 6m from the center of the goal for fouls inside the 6m goal keeper's area.
Goalkeeper - When in possession of the ball, the goalkeeper has 4 seconds to get rid of the ball. If the ball is kept too long, the referee will give an indirect kick to the other team. The goalkeeper may play freely when in the opponent's half.
Goalkeeper pass-back restriction - Once the goalkeeper has released the ball either by kicking or throwing, the goalkeeper may not touch it again until the ball goes out of play or is touched by an opponent. The sanction for violation is an indirect free kick. The goalkeeper may receive the ball freely when on the opponent's half
Kick-in - A kick-in is used instead of a throw-in. The player must place the ball on the touchline or outside but not more than 25 cm from the place the ball when out of play. The ball must be stationary and the kick-in must be taken within 4 seconds from the time the player is ready. During kick-in, opponents must stand at least 5m from the ball. If four seconds elapses or an illegal kick is taken, the referee will award a kick-in to the other team. It is not allowed to score directly from a kick-in: the goal is valid only if someone else touches the ball before it enters in goal.
Goal clearance - A goal clearance is used instead of a goal kick. The goalkeeper must throw the ball with their hands and it must leave the penalty area within four seconds. If goal clearance is taken illegally the goalkeeper may retry, but the referee will not reset the count. If four seconds elapses, the other team gets an indirect kick on the penalty area line.
Corner kick - The ball must be placed inside the arc nearest to the point where the ball crossed the goal line and the opponent must stand on field at least 5 m from the corner arch until the ball is in play. The corner kick must be taken within 4 seconds of being ready or else a goal clearance will be awarded to the other team. The ball is in play when it is kicked and moves.
Referees - For international matches, there must be two referees: one (first referee) is positioned on the touchline near the timekeeper table and communicates with the timekeeper, while the other (second referee) is in the opposite side of the field. At the timekeeper table there is a timekeeper and a third referee, who controls the teams’ benches.