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What is futsal?

Futsal is the fastest-growing indoor sport in the world! It is fast. It is fun. It is full of goals. Here's our quick guide to everything you need to know about futsal.


origins of futsal

Futsal comes from Spanish "fútbol sala" and from Portuguese "futebol de salão" and may be translated as "indoor football". During the sport's second world championships held in Madrid in 1985, the Spanish name fútbol sala was used. The World Futsal Association registered the name futsal in 1985, following a dispute with FIFA over the name fútbol. Since then futsal has become the officially and internationally accepted name, and FIFA has also started using the term futsal.

"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. Association 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 indoors or outdoors but that was similar to football.


differences from football


Futsal is a 5v5 game on an indoor pitch whereas football is played with 11 players on an outdoor pitch. This means you are likely to have more touches of the ball in futsal than in football.


Futsal is 40 minutes a match, each half lasts 20 minutes, with a clock that stops whenever the ball is out of play, and the player in possession has four seconds to restart the play. Each team is allowed a one-minute time-out per half. 


Futsal allows rolling and unlimited substitutions. The goalkeeper can receive one back pass in their half, and they have to throw/roll the ball out, but cannot touch the ball again until it has gone into the opposition half or been touched by an opponent. 


Futsal is played with a size 4 ball with 30% less bounce than a football. With the futsal ball being heavier, it allows you to get control of the ball more easily than a football.


Futsal is played on a small court 20m x 40m. This means that you must make shorter quicker passes, creating more attempts on goal or even goals. If the ball goes out of play (side) it's a kick in.


In Futsal, you are allowed a maximum of five fouls a half, for every subsequent foul the opposition gets a free kick or penalty. At half-time foul counts are wiped clean. If a player has been shown the red card, you can replace them with a new player after 2 minutes, unless a goal is conceded during that time.


Here's a summary of the main Futsal rules.


Length of
the court

Minimum 25 m × 16 m (82 ft × 52 ft), maximum 42 m × 25 m (138 ft × 82 ft).

The ball

Ages 13+: Size 4, circumference 62–64 cm (24–25 in), weight between 400–440 g (14–16 oz) at the start of the game. Ages 9–13: Size 3, circumference 56–59 cm (22–23 in), weight between 350–380 g (12–13 oz) at the start of the game. Dropped from a height of 2 m (6 ft 7 in), the first rebound must not be lower than 50 cm (20 in) or more than 65 cm (26 in). The ideal futsal ball should weigh 390–490 grams.

Match duration

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. In knockout games, the matches can go to extra time, comprising two periods of five minutes. If scores are level after 50 minutes, a penalty shoot-out will ensue from the six-metre mark. 

Number of players

There are five players for each team on the field, including the goalkeeper, and a maximum number of 12 players that can be used each match. Substitutions are unlimited and on the fly.


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.


A caution can be shown for unsporting behaviour, dissent, failure to respect the distance on a restart, excessive delay of a restart, persistent infringement, or incorrectly entering/leaving the field of play. A player or substitute can be sent off for serious foul play, violent conduct, spitting, illegally denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity, abusive language, and receiving a second caution. Sent-off 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 (16 ft) 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. The second penalty mark is 10 m (33 ft) from the goal, opponents must be behind the ball, and the goalkeeper must be at least 5 m (16 ft) away.

Penalty kick

6 m (20 ft) from the centre of the goal for fouls inside the 6 m (20 ft) goalkeeper's area.


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.


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 (9.8 in) from the place of 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 (16 ft) from the ball. If four seconds elapse 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 elapse, 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 (16 ft) 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.


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 on the opposite side of the field. At the timekeeper table there is a timekeeper and a third referee, who controls the teams' benches. In minor events, the third referees and the timekeeper are not used.

what does a futsal game look like?

Here you can see what a competitive, adult, national league game of futsal looks like.

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