The Ever-Growing Presence of Futsal; Engaging the masses

With the emergence of Premier League Futsal, the game has taken centre stage with increased publicity and greater popularity.

It’s easy to become become immersed within the Premier League, Champions League and other European Leagues such as Ligue 1 (France), the Bundesliga (Germany) and La Liga (Spain), but taking a look slightly further afield, there’s a lot going on in the footballing world. Increased spotlight and emphasis is being incorporated into a variant of the beautiful game. Often seen has street football, Futsal is becoming a craze throughout the world.

The Fifa Futsal world cup is currently taking place in Colombia, with 24 nations all vying to be crowned the best in the world. It seems that previously, very little media attention and publicity have been placed around Futsal but as variant games of other sports such as Rugby 7s have managed to grow, the same could happen with Futsal. Across the UK futsal isn’t widely known, but in countries such as India, Futsal is the latest sporting craze.

Fifa Futsal World Cup
Credit: FIFA

Premier Futsal, is a multi-national Futsal league that’s taken India by storm. It’s an indoor league that consists of 6 teams (from Kolkata, Mumbai, Goa, Chennai, Kochi and Bengaluru) in a 5-a-side variant of football in a franchise based system. The league has primarily been used as a means to invest in Indian football, with each franchise squad containing 5 regional players, with the starting lineups containing 3 international players, once marquee football player and one Indian player.

Former Real Madrid Galactico, Luis Figo is acting as president of the league in its inaugural season, marquee signings included players such as; Ryan Giggs, Ronaldinho, Deco, Paul Scholes, Hernan Crespo, Cafu and Michel Salgado. It’s with these big name signings that  have helped Indian football take its place on the world map, without a doubt the Premier Futsal League will gain investment and grow, which in conjunction should help football become a larger phenomenon in India.

Through Figo’s standing within the footballing world, the governing body for Premier Futsal, Futsal Association of India has already received backing from the United States Futsal Federation, that has a national status within the US. Talks have been made previously by the AMF (World Futsal Association) and FIFA, to attempt to incorporate the game into the Olympics. After its inaugural season, Premier Futsal said it reached 50 million television viewers in 10 countries and had up to 700 million engagements around the world, no doubt due to the level of calibre on show. With the league set to incorporate another 2 franchise based teams, Premier Futsal aims to focus on international broadcasting and sponsorship.

You might not know it but England do have a Futsal team, but they didn’t make the cut for the world cup. Successful footballing nations such as Italy, Brazil, and Spain are well established within the Futsal realm as well as Association Football mainly due to the heavy incorporation of Futsal at grassroots level. Young kids are brought up playing Futsal, learning close-control and fast-thinking before transferring those skills  to the 11-a-side game; something we English are yet to start incorporating on a wide scale. With governing body, The FA at the helm of Futsal in the UK, holding commercial partnerships with the likes of Continental, SSE and BT Sport, the progression of the game could entail a great manner of success.

Futsal is gaining publicity pretty rapidly, and could see the game become integrated into youth systems similar to those found in Brazil and Spain, alternatively the game could divert from Association Football, and become its own entity similar to its standing now. As its own entity, the game could see a rise like that seen by Rugby 7s, building its own global status and attracting the likes of seasoned professionals.

Feature Image credit: Manchester Futsal