Could futsal change the beautiful game?

Photo: Jim Elfe

It may be a relatively unknown sport in the UK, but futsal – or fútebol de salão – is a sport credited with nurturing and developing the talents of Ronaldinho, Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Joe Cole and many of their luminaries.

To the untrained eye, futsal appears to be a lot like five-a-side football. There are, however, noticeable differences. The ball is smaller and heavier encouraging good close control and technique. Games are often played at a rapid pace, with clever positional play of paramount importance.

In this country, it has struggled to take off, with relatively few young English players participating. Yet it is a professional sport in Spain and Portugal, where matches regularly attract crowds of up to 20,000.

However, with more and more British Premier League stars such as Micah Richards and Michael Owen celebrating the benefits of futsal, all that could be about to change.

Calum Fuller investigates the state of futsal in England.