December 2003 England draw Cyprus and Albania in Euro 2004 qualifiers.
November 2003 England announce that they have accepted an invitation to take part in the 2004 European futsal Championships.
Futsal is the international version of indoor soccer. Played throughout the world by an estimated 25 million players its rules sanctioned by FIFA. Italy is estimated to have 4 million Futsal players compared to 1 million full sided players. Futsal is the No1 game in Portuguese schools and Universities. Japan has over 300.000 players and is struggling to match facilities to players.
The 2000 F.I.F.A World Championships included: Spain (winners), Holland, Portugal, Croatia, Iran, Thailand, Argentina, Egypt, Australia, Cost Rica, Cuba Guatemala (hosts), Uruguay, Brazil (previous champions and finalist) & Russia (European champions)
England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales are conspicuous by their absence. Over 70 countries now participate in the game worldwide. Countries such as Spain, Italy, Brazil and Russia have professional leagues drawing indoor crowds that would grace our First Division.
The first international championships took place in 1965. Paraguay winning the S.American Cup. Brazil won the next six through to ’79! Brazil has dominated the game since winning the Pan America Cup in ’80 and ’84 plus being World Champions three times. The first in Sao Paola, Brazil, in 1982. The second was ’85 in Spain. In Australia ’88 Paraguay took the title. Brazil regained the title in Holland ’89 and retained it in Hong Kong ‘92. Spain ’96 was yet again a Brazilian triumph. 15.000 fans saw the hosts lose 6-4. 46 teams entered that year; this has grown to 70+ teams for the next championship. From ’89 the championships were under FIFA control. But others are catching up fast with the overall standard of this exhilarating game improving all the time.
Futsal became part of FIFA in ’87. United States Futsal integrating in ’89. At this moment in time, July 2002, 110 countries are register participants within FIFA.
Futsal has grown hugely in Brazil since 1980. The growth has paralleled the loss of playing fields in the big cities. Rivalino, Zico, Juninio, Ronaldo all originate from a Futsal background. The recent FIFA World Club Championships between Vasco de Gamma and Corinthians had 18 of the 22 starters originated from Futsal.
Many Brazilian oil rigs have Futsal courts on them!!
20000 teams enter an annual tournament in Iran every year
A Russian Futsal Cup final attracted a televised record of 32 million viewers.
Over 100,000 people watched 40 matches at the 2002 futsal World Cup finals in Guatemala.
Futsal originated at the Montevideo YMCA in Uruguay in the 1930’s. It was later adapted, closer to the game we see today, at a YMCA in San Paulo Brazil.
The games next big step was Rio in 1954 when the different Brazilian States unified their rules. Followed in 1974 when the International Federation of Futebol de Saláo or Fifusa was set up in Sán Paulo. In 1989 FIFA took over took over, split with Fifusa and coined the word FUTSAL. The game has worldwide expanded ever since
The Brazilian Futsal federation has registered 160.000 new players since 1991
Manoel Tobias, Brazil’s most famous Futsal player is said to earn in excess of 150.000$ annually.
Brazil’s first professional league started in 1996’although semi professional players existed via expenses payments before then.
Brazil is estimated to have more Futsal players than football players. The game is eulogised for the number of star footballers it has nurtured. Victor Belloss, The Guardian.