Futsal Origin – How A Popular Sport Today Once Started

Futsal is an exciting sport that has gained immense popularity in recent years and the graph is continuously rising. It’s a fast-paced version of Football and is mostly played indoors on smaller courts. If you’re familiar with Futsal or have explored a little about how some of the big names in world soccer, like Pele, Bebeto, Socrates, Ronaldo, etc., emerged to the big stage, you’d know they all played Futsal at some point in their career. But when and how did it all begin? Want to know more about Futsal origin and the history of the game?

Let’s find out more about the sport and its origins.

What Is Futsal?

Futsal is a fast-paced, football-like game that is played on a hard, basketball-like court. A Futsal ground or court is smaller in size than a typical football pitch. The game is mostly played indoors, and it is pretty similar to indoor football and five-a-side football in many aspects.

Futsal games feature two teams that have five players on each side, including the goalkeeper. At present, Futsal is governed by two different governing bodies. These are Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) and Asociación Mundial de Fútsal (AMF). Both these bodies work independently and are responsible for regulating the sport. They have stipulated the rules for their respective Futsal version.

Futsal Origin – When Did It Begin?

Futsal origin and its history dates back to 1930 in Montevideo, Uruguay where Juan Carlos Ceriani came up with the idea of a unique five-a-side version of field soccer for a YMCA youth competition. Ceriani was a teacher of physical education and worked with the YMCA.

How The Idea Popped Up That Laid The Foundation Of Futsal Origin?

In 1930, Uruguay had won the Football World Cup, and people went crazy about the sport. Young kids could be seen playing football everywhere, including the basketball courts. As Ceriani saw some children playing football on the basketball courts, because football grounds were always occupied, he realized that an indoor version of the sport could be invented with some changes to the original rules of the game.

It was then that he started working on the idea and invented a new sport with special assistance from Professor José Esperón’s father. They together devised the rules for this new football variation that was later named Futsal.

How They Formulated The Basic Futsal Rules and Guidelines?

For reference, the new soccer inventor and his colleague used the rulebooks for various sports, including basketball, water polo, handball, field football, and hockey with skates. Here’s how they came up with the basic guidelines for the sport.

  • The number of Futsal players (5), player positions, the technical defensive lock, and the match duration all were taken from basketball.
  • Goalposts and the court measurements were taken from handball.
  • The rotation of players during the game was inspired by hockey.
  • The ball and the style of play were kept pretty similar to field football.

Once the idea was floated and the new game – often referred to as mini-soccer or five-a-side soccer – was introduced, it started gaining popularity in South America very quickly. It particularly became popular in Brazil. It evolved over the years and became a popular source of honing one’s skills among football players. The fast-paced nature of the sport helped players perform better on full-sized football grounds. Besides, it helped players sharpen their ball control, movement, and manipulation. Players like Socrates, Pele, and Bebeto among other superstars used to play Futsal to improve their Soccer skills.

While Brazil remains the world’s Futsal hub, and Uruguay being the place of Futsal origin, the game has become popular all over the world now. It is currently governed by FIFA everywhere in the world.

How the Game Got Its Name?

If you dig more into Futsal origin and history, you find out that the name of the new sport was taken from futebol de salao – a Portuguese term for “indoor football.” Some references also exist that the word Futsal was taken from the Spanish name of the sport futbol de salon or futbol sala. Whether the name has its roots in Portuguese or Spanish, it refers to the football played in the halls or indoor Futsal.

The term Futsal was first used at the second Futsal world championship in Madrid in 1985. Since then, all other names for the sport were given up, and Futsal was adopted as the official name of the Futsal sport.  

In the past, there has also been a slight controversy surrounding the name of the sport. In 1985, FIFUSA was the very first association to have registered ‘Futsal’ as the name of the new sport. However, since then, the name ‘Futsal’ has also been regularly used by FIFA without any kind of negotiations or agreement with FIFUSA.

Even though there’s not much debate around this controversy today, and its impact seems to have reduced, the conflict between the two associations hasn’t been resolved to date.

The Formation of the Futsal Governing Bodies

Until 1965, there was no regulating body for football. The South American Confederation of Soccer of Salon was formed in 1965, and it was the first governing body for the sport. Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay were among the founding members of this confederation.

Later, in 1971, the FIFUSA was formed by seven member countries in Brazil. During the 1970s and 1980s, the aforementioned controversy continued between FIFA and FIFUSA over the exclusive use of the term “Football.”

Brazil decided to part ways with FIFUSA by 1990 and laid the foundation of PANAFUTSAL (The Pan American Football Confederation). The new governing body comprised 14 countries and later resolved the disputes with FIFA at the beginning of 2000.

In 2002, the PANAFUTSAL members laid the foundation of the World Association of Futsal (MFA). Since then, the Futsal sport has been governed and regulated by FIFA and MFA. However, both these governing bodies separately organize Futsal Regionals and other tournaments under their umbrella.

Where Is Futsal More Popular?

After its inception in 1930, the game started gaining popularity in South American countries. Initially, it was played in Brazil and Uruguay only, where two different versions of the sport were played in Sao Paulo and Montevideo.

Once FIFUSA was formed in 1971, the association started organizing Futsal tournaments, and the game continued to grow in popularity, with more countries participating in the Second FIFUSA World Championship in 1985 than the first one.

A few years later, as the popularity of the sport grew further, FIFA took control and introduced new rules to address the technical aspects and make the game more exciting for players and fans alike. This certainly was a big step forward in making Futsal more popular in other countries as well.

Soon, the popularity of the sport started to grow in the European countries as well, and UEFA recognized that too, organizing a European tournament in Spain. The trend continued, and the sport grew in popularity in more and more countries.

Today, Futsal has truly become a global sport, and the number of football federations and associations embracing it is continuously on the rise. It has become extremely popular in Portugal, Spain, Russia, Italy, Kazakhstan, France, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Iran, and many more countries across the globe.


Futsal is undoubtedly a popular sport around the world today, but the Futsal origin lies in South America where it was first invented in 1930. Initially played as a five-a-side tournament on basketball courts, it was invented by a physical education teacher Juan Carlos Ceriani. He got the idea of inventing this new sport after seeing young Uruguayan kids going crazy about Soccer and playing it on basketball courts when Uruguay won the Soccer World Cup in 1930.

Since then, the Futsal sport has continuously evolved and grown in popularity. Today, it is governed by FIFA and has become a popular sport in many countries around the world, especially in South America and Europe. And considering the fast-paced nature of indoor Futsal, and the thrill and excitement that comes along, it is bound to grow in popularity further in years to come.