Futsal's coming home...

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There’s two legends surrounding the origins of futsal, whose FIFA World Cup started this week in Brazil.

The first dictates the sport was created in the 1930’s in Uruguay by Montevideo YCMA’s professor Juan Carlos Ceriani. The second tells that it first appeared in São Paulo, also inside the YCMA, by some lads who started kicking a football about in a basketball court, late in the 1940’s.

Fact is it was in Brazil, in 1952, that the futebol de salão’s first organisation was assembled – the São Paulo’s YCMA Salon Football League, founded by Habib Maphuz. (In Uruguay, there was no organised futsal until 1965.)

Maphuz was also the mastermind behind the rules of the indoor game – the most defining of them to change from the standard-size football to a smaller, heavier one, to prevent it from bouncing and going out of bounds all the time.

So if futsal isn’t coming home, with the FIFA World Cup in Rio de Janeiro and Brasília, it’s right there next door.

Falcão celebrates scoring vs Salomon Islands

That’s why it’s so important for Brazilians not to let the trophy slip in the motherland. Repatriating futsal’s greatest prize, usurped by the Spaniards a couple of tournaments ago, is a matter of honour.

Brazil had won the first three Futsal World Cup following its launch in 1982. But then came Spain. In 2000, they beat Brazil 4-3 in the final in Guatemala.

And then in 2004, in Taiwan, they knocked Brazil out again, in the semi-finals, on penalties before beating Brazilian-powered Italy in the final to claim their second consecutive title.

Spain celebrate winning 2007 Euro Futsal 

Now, it’s time for revenge.

Brazil routed Japan 12-1 in their opening game in Brasília. Another showcase of Falcão, the world’s best player, Lenísio, Schumacher, Ari etc.

Spain’s opener was tougher: a 3-3 draw with Iran – who have a respectable futsal squad. The Iranians were leading 3-0 at half-time but, despite the full support of the Rio de Janeiro crowd, they couldn’t hold on to the lead.

Of course there are 18 other nations competing for the crown, among them Italy, Portugal, Argentina, Russia and Ukraine. The Noise from Brazil will keep a close eye on the action, and will let you know the good, the bad and the ugly of the FIFA Futsal World Cup, Brazil 2008.

Including, we hope, the ultimate Brazil-Spain clash – in which I expect Falcão and co. to send them home empty-handed...

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