Soccer originates from sports first played under organized conditions in the 19th century, and those early games spawned several variations. The sport we call 'football', and which the rest of the world calls 'American Football', is one of them, as is Australian Rules football, and soccer itself is officially named 'Association Football'.
There is another form of the sport which is played all over the world and it is called 'Futsal'. While many aspects of the game are identical to those in soccer, there are also many rules and features which are different and this includes some of the equipment, including the futsal ball. We are going to take a look at some futsal basics and weigh up some of those differences between futsal and soccer.
The name 'futsal' has its origins in both the Spanish and the Portuguese languages. Fútbol de Salón in Spanish, and Futebol de Sãlo both translate literally into English as football salon, or more practically as indoor football. However, since 1985, it has generally been accepted that the name for this form of soccer is simply futsal.
Nearly all futsal matches are played indoors, and this usually takes the form of a hard floor soccer court. The dimensions of a futsal court are defined within the rules and the specifics are; length minimum 25 meters (82 feet) maximum 42 meters (138 feet) with the width having a minimum of 16 meters (52 feet) and a maximum of 25 meters (82 feet).
Apart from the playing surface and dimensions being hugely different from soccer, the other major variation is in the number of players. In futsal, each team only has 5 players compared to 11 in a normal soccer team, but there is one similarity in that one of the players must be designated as the goalkeeper.
Timing is also very different when comparing the two. First, when there is a stoppage in a futsal match, instead of the referee adding additional time at the end of a half, the clock is actually stopped until play resumes. This obviously eliminates any incentive for players to time waste and run down the clock if their team is winning.
The length of time of a futsal match also varies from soccer with each half lasting for 20 minutes, with a 15-minute interval between the two. The last difference in relation to time is that each team can claim a one minute time out in each half.
Although the objective of futsal is exactly that of soccer, to score more goals than your opponents, there are several differences that go beyond the basics we have already spoken about. For major games, there are three referees, whereby one is positioned on each sideline and the third is responsible for overseeing the team benches and substitutions.
On the subject of substitutions, these are done on a rolling one on, one off basis, and the number of substitutions allowed is unlimited, albeit you can only have a maximum of nine substitutes listed. There are no throw-ins as you would have in a soccer match, and instead, if the ball goes out of play, a kick-in is used to restart the game.
The next major difference is in relation to fouls. Whereby in soccer only individuals are responsible for their actions and any subsequent punishment such as a yellow or red card, in futsal, there is an additional aspect where the team is punished collectively. Players still get yellow or red cards, but if a team commits more than 5 fouls in either half of the match, their opponents are awarded a penalty.
As futsal is played on hard indoor courts, players will obviously not be wearing soccer cleats on their feet as they would in soccer. Instead, they wear indoor soccer shoes, which are lightweight, very flexible, and have a rubber sole with a patterned grip specially designed for keeping their footing on futsal courts.
Beyond this, there isn't really much difference between the uniform a team would wear for a soccer match and that for a futsal match. Socks, shorts and soccer shirt would be found in both, and shin guards are also permitted in futsal. One slight allowance for goalkeepers is that in futsal, they are allowed to wear elbow pads in order to protect their elbows whenever they are diving and landing on the hard surface below.
Let's start with the basics and look at the dimensions, weight, etc. You might have seen a soccer ball designated by size which is simply a specification for its dimensions. For example, a soccer ball is classified as a 'Size 5', and this means that its circumference is approximately 68 to 70 centimeters or 26.75 to 27.5 inches, which conforms with the laws of soccer as it relates to the ball.
There are also rules in relation to weight, which for a Size 5 soccer ball is between 410 and 450 grams (14 to 16 ounces) and the pressure of the ball must be between 0.6 and 1.1 atmospheres (8.8 and 16.2 pounds per square inch)
For futsal matches, the ball is smaller than used in soccer matches. Here they are size 4, which has the following specifications. The circumference will be between 62 and 64 centimeters (24 to 25 inches), and the weight will be between 400 and 440 grams (14 to 16 ounces). The observant among you will note that although the size of the futsal ball is smaller than a soccer ball, the weight of each ball is the same.
The other major difference between a soccer ball and a futsal ball is what happens when either of them hits the ground (soccer) or floor (futsal). A soccer ball is designed to bounce, and this is why control and touches of the ball with a player’s chest or head are part and parcel of the game.
However, a futsal ball is not designed to bounce, because the way in which futsal is played has a large focus on control and speed. This is why you will find that the futsal ball has a harder outer material than a soccer ball.