You’ve heard us here at Hornets Headquarters go on about Futsal, you might have heard about it during the World Cup or from your local Football Association, but you’re still not quite sure how it differs from your regular football. No need to fear, we’ve got the answers to your burning questions right here!

The first rules of the game were published in 1936 and Futsal is the only version of five-a-side football that FIFA – the world’s governing body of football – supports. If you were to put a Futsal pitch and a five-a-side pitch next to each other, the first two differences you’d spot are the balls and the goals.

Futsal is played with a square goal, not too dissimilar to your traditional hockey goals. We’ve all grown up hoping the school playing fields had left the hockey goals up so we could play football with real goals and not just jumpers for goalposts. The second thing you might spot is the ball, it’s a size smaller than your regular football and it’s not covered in fluff like the oversized tennis balls of regular indoor five-a-side. It’s also weighted to allow for greater control and allows more ball trickery to take place.

Hockey goals are just Futsal goals in disguise.
Hockey goals are just Futsal goals in disguise.

Whilst five-a-side is played indoors, Futsal can be played outside too (as long as its on a flat surface). The difference being that indoors with five-a-side you could be subject to the ice-hockey style body check against the wall whilst the ball ricochets off towards the on-coming attacker. In Futsal, the pitch is wider and longer and played to lines like traditional 11-a-side football. Unlike traditional 11-a-side football, there are no throw-ins, but kick-ins. The ball has to be on the floor and the player has four seconds to make the play from releasing their hand from the ball. Don’t worry, the referee’s will keep count.

Speaking of referee’s, there are three of them! (Four in International Futsal). You have two line referees who take responsibility for any fouls and illegal play that happens in their half and you have a time-keeper. Futsal is played in real-time in two twenty minute halves which means if the ball goes out of play, the watch stops.

You might have seen the magical vanishing spray at the World Cup to aid referee’s in keeping that defensive line back the required ten yards. You don’t get that in Futsal. Fouls as a whole are a rare thing because players are aware of the five foul limit. Once a team makes a total of five fouls – that’s right, the TEAM, not just one player – a direct free kick is issued and there can be no wall. The free kick is moved forward to the 10 yard marker, so essentially it’s a penalty kick.

Those of you with an inner Julian Dicks or Paul Scholes will want to play a cleaner style of Futsal and don’t get tempted to make any sliding challenges – they’re illegal. Although you can slide to keep the ball in play or block. Although if you do find yourself getting sent off – the game isn’t over. You only have to sit in the sin bin for two minutes or until the opposition have scored a goal. That means you could give away a penalty, get sent off, they score then you’re back on again. Not bad eh?

Whilst five-a-side tends to put a limit on the number of substitutions you can make, there is none of that in Futsal. Up to twelve players can be used in one match and there is no limit to how long a player must stay on the bench once being subbed. The only restriction is that players must enter and exit the field through the “substitution” zone which is marked out by the teams bench.

Always know who is coming off. Otherwise, chaos!
Always know who is coming off. Otherwise, chaos!

Each team is allowed to call a time-out, at a maximum of one per half. This allows the management team to adjust tactics, give his players a break or sneakily disrupt the good form of his opposition. There is no head-height restriction on play – well, other than the height of the hall if playing indoors – which will excite Sam Allardyce and his long ball tactics (although really, Futsal is best played on the deck).

Finally, if you’re a goalkeeper you’ll be pleased to know you can come out of the goal area. You can therefore become an extra outfield player, rush to take kick-ins or score that final minute wonder goal. What’s not as exciting is that outfield players can enter your area freely and if you do decide to go on a Ronaldo style run from your goal kick, you only have four seconds to exit your half of the field.

Essentially, Futsal is a much more fun version of five-a-side football. It allows you to flaunt your skills with the smaller, weighted ball and just proves why the stars of Brazil are so talented. One of the best goals the Hornets ever scored in our Futsal encounter was a rainbow flick up into a volley into the top corner. Seeing is believing and you can be part of it all with the Hornets Futsal Academy.

Starting tonight (July 24th) at Bishop Perowne’s school in Worcester, the Hornets adults, led by UEFA B licensed coach Dan Denyer will be teaching the art of Futsal to children aged 7-11. There’s still space available, come on down, only £2 a session. The Academy will run for six weeks and each week your child will learn a new skill and talent. For more information you can tweet us @hornetsfc or send us an email to email

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