Futsal returns with a bright future ahead

As the Futsal Champions League gets back underway, we look at how UEFA and its national associations are setting the indoor game up for success.

The UEFA Futsal Champions League trophy at Barcelona's Palau Blaugrana
The UEFA Futsal Champions League trophy at Barcelona's Palau Blaugrana UEFA via Getty Images

The UEFA Futsal Champions League finals take place in Barcelona this weekend as the competition reaches its climax 14 months after it began.

The finals were originally scheduled to take place in Minsk in April but were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In reorganising, rather than cancelling, the competition, UEFA has demonstrated its long-term commitment to a fast-developing sport.

Enhancing exposure and appeal

“Futsal is continuing to forge ahead in Europe, thanks to UEFA’s promotion of the sport, underpinned by a strategic vision which aims to enhance futsal’s standing, exposure and appeal,” says UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin.

“The game is constantly attracting new players and fans, and the UEFA Futsal Champions League finals in Barcelona promise to highlight the strength of futsal’s development. In addition, we are pleased that we have been able to reschedule the 2019/20 finals, which were delayed owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The competition’s new name is definitely lending futsal a bright and strong new profile, and this latest prestigious occasion will give futsal fans a wonderful opportunity to see for themselves just how far the sport has progressed over the years.”

Portugal's Sporting celebrate winning the 2019 UEFA Futsal Champions League.
Portugal's Sporting celebrate winning the 2019 UEFA Futsal Champions League.©Sportsfile

A source of pride for the hosts

Luis Rubiales, UEFA vice-president and president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) is grateful for the opportunity to host a sport in which his country has thrived. In total, Spain has lifted seven out of ten men's senior UEFA futsal titles, two FIFA Futsal World Cups, the inaugural European women's and U19 championships in 2019, as well as nine of 18 UEFA club titles.

“It is a source of pride for futsal in our country that two Spanish clubs have deservedly reached the final four. FC Barcelona and El Pozo Murcia epitomise the great shape that our sport is in and the ability to achieve new international success,” Rubiales said.

“We have made ourselves available to UEFA again by offering our extraordinary sports facilities during the extremely difficult circumstances of the pandemic.

We are proud of the work that has taken place this summer and convinced that Barcelona’s Palau Blaugrana will showcase just how well organised the event is, thanks to the effort and professionalism of everyone involved from UEFA and FC Barcelona.

“The RFEF will also be investing all its efforts in helping this fantastic event continue the development of futsal, which is becoming increasingly important in our country.”

The UEFA Futsal Champions League action resumes on Friday evening, live on UEFA.tv in selected markets, with two Spanish sides meeting two Russian sides in the semi-finals: hosts Barça play KPRF and Murcia meet Tyumen.

Highlights from the Futsal EURO 2018 final between Spain and Portugal.
Highlights from the Futsal EURO 2018 final between Spain and Portugal.

How is UEFA helping national associations develop futsal across Europe?

The Futsal Champions League is just one of four pan-European futsal competitions organised by UEFA.

- UEFA Futsal EURO
- UEFA Women’s Futsal EURO
- UEFA European Under-19 Futsal Championship
- UEFA Futsal Champions League

By participating in these competitions, national associations receive incentive payments from UEFA, with up to €55,000 available annually. At present, 50 of the governing body’s 55 member nations have teams competing in futsal.

The incentive payments are part of UEFA’s HatTrick programme, for which European football’s governing body has committed €775.5 million over the next four years to help associations develop the game in all forms and at all levels. Each association can receive up to €4.5 million over the current 2020-2024 cycle, with some choosing to dedicate funds towards specific futsal projects.

San Marino is building a new 1,000-seat futsal arena capable of hosting international fixtures.

In Finland and Ukraine, which both have extremely cold winters, futsal owes it popularity in part to the short duration of the outdoor season. Each association has invested in specialised mobile futsal pitches. These allow the national team to take the game to new audiences across the country, increasing its reach and popularity.

Spain’s mobile pitch also ensures the national team can promote futsal in multiple locations.

France’s national association is converting existing outdoor multi-sports spaces and unused tennis courts into specialised 40 metre x 20metre structures dedicated to futsal.

Our futsal for beginners guide is available here, featuring history, rules, profiles on the top teams and players, and all-important information on how the game differs from its 11-a-side cousin.

You can see the official 2020 UEFA Futsal Champions League programme here.

The latest status of all UEFA competitions, with competition dates and COVID-19 updates, can be seen here.