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The origins of the sport are a matter of debate. Some believe it began in the Young Men's Christian Associations (YMCA) in Montevideo, Uruguay, at a time when the church used sport to instil moral values, like discipline and honour.

Others believe Brazil invented the game, as the urban sprawl of cities such as Rio and Sao Paulo wiped out the space for 11-a-side pitches.

What is not disputed is that the rules were formalised in Uruguay as a combination of basketball, water polo, handball and, of course, football - 20 minutes each way, five or six-a-side.


Since then its practice, and its influence, has spread. The first futsal World Cup took place in 1982, Brazil winning the final in Sao Paulo - and four or the first five tournaments. Fifa began to take notice and in 1989 took control of the sport. With wider popularity came changes. With television companies interested, Fifa made the ball twice as big - a size four rather than the size two with which the game began - and much lighter. Spain began to take futsal seriously, using Brazilian-born players to strengthen their team, winning futsal's World Cup twice. It soon became a regular part of the academies at Barcelona, Real Madrid and elsewhere in La Liga.


Portugal, Italy and Germany have, like Spain, been playing the game for the past 20 years in an attempt to emulate Brazil's technique, and England is belatedly catching on, albeit gradually   -Ben Smith

The football greats forged by Futsal 

"In Futsal, you see whether a player is really tallented... you notice the small details in quality, class and tactical understanding ."


- Spain and Barcelona Star Xavi

As a little boy in Argentina, I played futsal on the streets and for my club. It was tremendous fun, and it really helped me become who I am today."


- Lionel Messi 

"The small playing area helped me improve my close control, and whenever I played futsal I felt free. If it wasn't for futsal, I wouldn't be the player I am today.."


- Cristiano Ronaldo