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Futsal History

History of Our Game

"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. Football was already highly popular in the country and after Uruguay won the 1930 World Cup and gold medals in the 1924 and 1928 Summer Olympics, it attracted even more practitioners. Ceriani's goal was to create a team game that could be played indoor or outdoor but that was similar to football.

Ceriani, writing the rule book, took as examples the principles of football (the possibility to touch the ball with every part of the body except for the hands), and 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 goal sizes.

The YMCA spread the game immediately throughout South America. It was easily played by everyone, everywhere, and in any weather condition, without any difficulty, helping players to stay in shape all year round. These reasons convinced João Lotufo, a Brazilian, to bring this game to his country and adapt it to the needs of physical education.

Initially, the rules were not uniform. In 1956, the rules were modified by Habib Maphuz and Luiz Gonzaga de Oliveira Fernandes within the YMCA of São Paulo, Brazil to allow seniors to compete. Luiz de Oliveira wrote the Book of Rules of Futsal in 1956, then adopted also at the international level.

In 1965, the Confederación Sudamericana de Fútbol de Salón [pt] (South American Futsal Confederation) was formed, consisting of Uruguay, Paraguay, Peru, Argentina and Brazil.

Shortly after, a unique tournament was organized. It attracted some interest in South American media, which regularly began to follow futsal. In particular, it was the journalist José Antônio Inglêz who passionately contributed to the rapid spread of the game, as well as being credited as the man who coined the name “futsal” to define the sport.

The sport began to spread across South America, and its popularity ensured the formation of a governing body in São Paulo in 1971, under the name of Federación Internacional de Fútbol de Salón (FIFUSA). FIFUSA initially comprised Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, and Uruguay, along with the World Championships. The new institution counted 32 participating countries and its first President was João Havelange joined by the secretary Luiz Gonzaga de Oliveira. In 1975, the Federation's chief passed to FIFA, and in 1980, Januário D'Alessio Neto was elected to work to make this sport recognized worldwide by supranational bodies.

The first FIFUSA World Championships were held in São Paulo, Brazil, in 1982 with the hosting Brazilian team crowned champions against Paraguay in front of an audience of 12,000 people, with Uruguay placing third. The Federation then began to work to bring the big event to Europe. In 1985, the second futsal World Cup was organized in Madrid, Spain, where the Brazilian team won again. The event was a success, with a considerable media interest and a huge response from the audience, thanks to the Spanish TV station that filmed the event.

In 1985, Joseph Blatter, at that time secretary of football's governing body, FIFA, thought it was the right time to enlarge its influence and therefore also deal with indoor football. Knowing that the Federation President João Havelange was the head of FIFUSA from 1971 to 1974, the Swiss decided to summon in Brazil the world governing body of futsal: Surprisingly, the Congress voted against the unification. Due to a dispute between FIFA and FIFUSA over the name of fútbol, FIFUSA has registered the word fut-sal in 1985 (Madrid, Spain).

FIFA wanted to promote and spread its own version of indoor football, different from the original one played in the South American countries, but they could not manage to come to an agreement with FIFUSA in the Rio de Janeiro Congress in 1989.

On 2 May 1990, the Brazilian federation finally broke away from FIFUSA, and on 25 September, an event in Bogotá, Colombia contributed to the founding of the Confederación Panamericana de Futbol de Salon (PANAFUTSAL) together with Paraguay, Colombia, Mexico, Uruguay, Argentina, Venezuela, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, Bolivia, Ecuador, the Netherlands Antilles, Aruba, and Canada.

The conference held in Guatemala in 2000 between members of PANAFUTSAL and FIFA focused on the resolution of the dispute between the two institutions and on the achievement of futsal in the pure version that excited many in South America. The signing of the Protocol, however, was not followed by concrete actions. FIFA kept on promoting its version of futsal. So the PANAFUTSAL decided to create a new worldwide body for the preservation of futsal. In December 2002, the Asociación Mundial de Futsal (AMF) was founded. It is currently composed of 40 national federations and three continental bodies, one of which was FIFS.

In 2002, members of PANAFUTSAL formed AMF, an international futsal governing body independent of FIFA, in reaction to the alleged stagnancy of futsal under FIFUSA. Both FIFA and AMF continue to administer the game.