Luis Figo’s dream of introducing the five-a-side variant of soccer—futsal—to India may be still-born.
The Portuguese ex-footballer was in the country to sell his new venture Premier Futsal as its president.
The 10-day event is scheduled to begin in mid-July and will consist of eight city franchises whose squads will have 56 international players and 40 Indians.
Each side would have three international players, one international marquee soccer player and one Indian player.
Each squad would have 12 players.
The eight chosen cities are: Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru, Kochi, Hyderabad and Goa.
“It’s a new challenge and adventure I have taken up which I hope to make as a success and that s why I said yes to this new project.
People love soccer and cricket out here. India has a huge population, a huge market and it offers a huge opportunity for doing sports events with great success. I am doing something positive for the sport and the country and my experience as a soccer player will hopefully help me in this development.
Back in Portugal I have played futsal extensively growing up which instilled quick thinking, skills and close control.”
The proposed league hit a speed-breaker when the world body FIFA wrote to the All India Football Federation (AIFF) claiming that the Futsal Association of India is a non-affiliated group and thus the Futsal League is not sanctioned by them.
Futsal is played mainly indoors and consists of two halves of 20 minutes each.
The main differences between traditional soccer and futsal are listed below:
Futsal (Five-a-Side Soccer)
|#5 Ball||#4 Ball – 30% less bounce|
|11 players||5 players|
|3 substitutions||Unlimited “flying” substitutions (12 Players on a Team)|
|Running Clock||Stopped Clock|
|45 minute halves||20 minute halves|
|No time-outs||1 time-out per half|
|Goal kicks||Goal Clearance (throw)|
|Some contact||No shoulder charges or sliding tackles|
|No absolute time limit to restart game||4-second rule on restarts|
|Offside Rule||No Offside Rule|
|Goalkeeper steps||No restrictions, but limited to 4 seconds|
|Goalkeeper cannot touch by hand a ball kicked back||Goalkeeper cannot touch by hand a ball played back|
|Unlimited back passes to Goalkeeper||One back pass to Goalkeeper|
|No sub for player sent off||Player sent off can be substituted for after 2 minutes or other has scored|
|Corner kick placed in arch||Corner kick placed on corner|
The Futsal Association of India (FAI) was formed in 2007.
Namdev Shirgaonkar is the former president of the organization.
They are affiliated with Association Mundial de Futsal (AMF) since 2011. They claim to be Founder Members of Confederation of Asian Futsal (CAFS).
FIFA World Cups for Futsal have been held since 1989 and the next is scheduled in Bogota, Colombia this year.
FIFA has competition from the Asociación Mundial de Fútbol de Salón (AMF) which was founded in July 1971.
Futsal tournaments as organised by AMF predate any tourneys organised by FIFA.
The promoters FAI have probably foreseen opposition from FIFA and AIFF. Talent will be scouted from all over India for the league; it’s unlikely that existing AIFF players will participate in big numbers lest they fall foul of their parent body.
We can only hope that budding footballers are not penalised for being part of this league much like players in the now defunct Indian Cricket League (ICL) were.
If the concept takes off, expect the AIFF to consider floating a rival franchise.
Futsal , if it succeeds, could very well popularise the game further in the country making it more accessible to the masses. We could very well see Futsal leagues mushrooming nationwide and schools, colleges and universities taking part enthusiastically.