The 2005 FIFA Futsal World Championship gets under way in Chinese Taipei on 21 November and it promises to be the best yet.
Five European teams will take part in the 16-team competition featuring nations from all corners of the globe including Brazil, Iran, Egypt, Australia and the United States. Flying the flag for UEFA will be champions Spain along with Italy, Ukraine, Portugal and the Czech Republic. To get to the Far East finals, Europe's élite had to overcome a group stage and then a two-legged play-off.
Having successfully negotiated qualifying, each has been placed in one of four groups of four - the Spanish and Ukrainians are in Group A, the Czechs are in Group B, the Italians in Group C and the Portuguese in Group D - and will play three matches between 21 and 26 November.
The top two teams from each group will progress to a second group stage, which will see two sections of four sides battle it out between 28 November and 1 December. The teams finishing first and second in these groups will make up the semi-finalists, with the two last-four games taking place on 3 December. The third-place play-off and the final will then follow on 5 December.
The prestigious global competition has been held on four previous occasions with European teams boasting a strong record of success. The Netherlands reached the final of the inaugural edition in 1999, which they hosted, only to lose on penalties to Brazil after a 3-3 draw. Spain finished third when Hong Kong staged the finals in 1992 and went one better when they hosted in 1996. Brazil had won the first three titles but the Spanish were finally crowned world champions in Guatemala in 2000.