What is Futsal? Everything You Need to Know

What is Futsal? Futsal, indoor soccer, or indoor football, is a smaller, faster, and action packed version of the beautiful game that will leave you breathless and wanting more.

Futsal is usually played indoors on hard surfaces and in a much smaller pitch, or court, compared to a full-sized soccer field, but bigger than a basketball court. Futsal can also be played outdoors, as long as you have the correct sized court and surface type.

Futsal and indoor soccer are basically the same thing, although they can vary slightly, but people usually use these two words to mean the same thing. Futsal has very specific rules, while indoor soccer usually doesn’t since it is a form of small sided games (5v57v7, or 9v9), but it can be played similarly to futsal.

In futsal there are fewer players than in a regular full sized soccer game , five players in total, four outfield players and one goalkeeper. In this blog, I will be covering all of the basics that you need to know about the world of Futsal.

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 Image by Pascal Swier

Futsal History

The original full sized soccer game was officially established in the late 1800s and futsal was born within the following century. Futsal originated in South America, Uruguay almost nine decades ago, and has evolved from a local pastime to a globally recognized sport.

The creator, Juan Carlos Ceriani, had a vision for an indoor football competition at YMCAs which laid the groundwork for what would eventually become Futsal. Futsal’s growth owes much to its fast-paced format and emphasis on technical skills in tight spaces. I

ts roots in Montevideo, Uruguay continue to inspire millions worldwide and more and more soccer players are taking advantage of the many benefits of Futsal.

What is Futsal?

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Benefits of Playing Futsal

If you are a serious aspiring soccer player, a youth player, or even a beginner to either of these two sports, playing futsal has tons of benefits that you will not want to miss out on.

  • Helps you get into the flow state
  • Great cardiovascular workout
  • Help build soccer specific stamina and endurance
  • Improves agility, reflexes, and reaction time
  • Develops technical skills in tight spaces
  • Network with other players
  • Great social sport to build and find a community
  • Improve soccer specific skills against live opponents and under pressure such as:
What is Futsal?

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Rules of Futsal

Now that you are a bit more familiar with futsal history as well as some of its main benefits, let’s discuss some of the main rules of futsal.



  • Similar to water polo, the regulation time for Futsal is two twenty minute halves and a 15 minute half time break in between.
  • There is no injury, or stoppage time
  • Depending on the type of match being played the game will either go into extra time or it will end in a draw if both teams have scored the same amount of goals 
  • If both teams are still tied after extra time, the game will go into a penalty shootout with three kickers per team

The Field

  • A futsal court looks similar to a soccer field, although it is much smaller.
  • A futsal court has two goalkeeper boxes, a halfway line, two touch lines (longer sides of the field) and two goal lines (shorter sides of the field).
  • The penalty area, or the goal box, is a quarter circle and it has one penalty mark at the 6m line from the midpoint between the goalposts and equidistant from them.
  • There is also a second penalty mark that is 10 m from the midpoint between the goalposts and equidistant from them.
  • The goalkeeper is the only player that can use their hands if they are inside their own penalty area.

Restarting Play after Out-of-Bounds

  • A kick in replaces a throw-in, with the ball placed on the line and kicked within four seconds to resume play.
    • Failure to do so results in a turnover to the opposing team.
    • Goalkeepers initiate play with a goal clearance, throwing or releasing the ball from within the penalty area within four seconds.
  • Corner kicks and free kicks, both direct and indirect, offer strategic opportunities to capitalize on set-piece situations.
    • A corner kick occurs in the same way a corner kick works in a full sized game.

Squad Composition and Substitutions

  • Teams consist of four outfield players and one goalkeeper
  • Usually there are unlimited substitutions which can occur at any time during play, with players seamlessly entering and exiting through the designated substitution zone in front of their team’s bench.
  • Goalkeeping substitutions are also conducted on the fly, without disrupting the flow of the game.

Fouls, Misconduct, and Fair Play

  • Indirect free kicks are awarded for foul play such as dangerous play or impeding opponents, while direct free kicks result from more serious offenses like kicking or tripping opponents.
  • Similar to the full sized game, yellow cards signal a warning for misconduct while a red card means ejection from the game.
  • Accumulated fouls, recorded throughout each half, can lead to direct free kicks for the opposing team, similar to the rules in basketball and foul accumulations.

Goalkeeper Rules

  • Like in the full sized game, goalkeepers must wear a jersey that is different from the rest of their team.
  • While goalkeepers may not use their hands outside their penalty area, they enjoy certain privileges such as receiving kick-ins directly and scoring with their feet during gameplay. 

Image by Laura Rincón

International Futsal Tournaments

The world of Futsal extends far beyond local leagues and club competitions. Futsal has major international and club tournaments with some of the best futsal players in the world.

A Deep Dive into UEFA Futsal Champions League

In 2018, what was once known as the UEFA Futsal Cup transformed into the UEFA Futsal Champions League. This annual competition puts Europe’s top clubs against each other in an exhilarating knockout format.

FIFA-Endorsed Competitions: The Ultimate Test of Skill

Beyond European borders, FIFA has its own set of competitions, including its main event – the FIFA Futsal World Cup, held every four years similar to its traditional football counterpart, the FIFA World Cup.

Youth Olympics also host separate boys’ and girls’ futsal tournaments, providing young talents an opportunity to display their skills early on a global platform, which often serves as stepping stones towards the senior level.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between soccer and Futsal?

Futsal is different from soccer and other forms of the game in that it is played on hard court surfaces that are much smaller than a regular field, it uses a low bounce ball, there are two teams of five players, which includes four outfield players and one goalkeeper, and although it is typically played indoors it can also be considered an outdoor game, if you have the correct playing field outside.

Both soccer and futsal can be played as part of pickup games.

Which professional soccer players played Futsal growing up?

Many of the best players in the world have played on hard futsal courts all throughout their childhood such as Andres Iniesta, Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Neymar, and Ronaldinho to name a few.

Where did the name Futsal come from?

The word Futsal comes from different countries. It comes from the Portuguese futebol de salão and Spanish fútbol sala or fútbol de salón.

What are the best teams in the sport’s history at the international level?

The best Futsal team at the international level has to be either Brazil, Spain, Argentina, or Portugal.

Which Futsal team holds the current World Championship?

The current FIFUSA World Championship winner for the Men’s futsal teams is Paraguay, while the current FIFUSA World Championship winner for the Women’s futsal teams is Colombia.

How can I learn more about the game?

To learn more about soccer the most important thing is to join a team and play the game as much as possible. If possible, analyze high level games as much as you can and your own games as well by recording them with a soccer camera. Also read soccer books, listen to podcasts and interviews watch soccer documentaries, as well as some movies, tv shows, and anime.


In conclusion, Futsal is one of the most popular variations of the beautiful game that can directly improve all of the skills required for the full field game. Futsal is played on a hard surface and requires specialized equipment that is slightly different from the equipment needed for the grass game.

In this blog, I covered everything you need to know about Futsal including a brief history, its benefits, the main rules, as well as the major international futsal tournaments. So now that you are done reading this blog, get outside, and make sure you try the game of Futsal if you have not already.

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