Lessons Football can learn from Futsal

Posted: May 10, 2014 by larbitre in Futsal
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

In my short tenure as a futsal referee and enthusiast, I’ve picked up on rules better enforced in Futsal than in football due to the nature of the game.

1. Duration of the Match

So simple yet so complicated sometimes.

When the allowance for time lost is added to the end of each half, there is the mentality that the match cannot be ended unless any attacking opportunity has dissipated and this stems from players, coaches and fans putting pressure on referees to prolong the game to give their team the extra advantage or to end it early to give their team the win. I focus on the former.

I remembered this having watch the 2012-2013 UCL clash between Real Madrid and Manchester United when Felix Brych ended the match prior to a Manchester United corner kick being taken and was immediately surrounded by players complaining. Despite this, the time had elapsed and such are the rules of the game.

The game is done in Futsal once the buzzer for end of time sounds. Similar to basketball (in many respects), a shot on goal during the buzzer can be considered valid if it enters the net but time is up when the buzzer sounds. No extra minutes/seconds being played due to a promising attack in progress.

Granted that Futsal has the clock stopped on the ball skipping the ball out of play and all the business that goes on but that’s why we have added time (allowance for time lost) in football! There is no need for further time and no need for less time either.

2. Time wasting

Gamesmanship, in this regard, is swiftly dealt with in Futsal.

With the added responsibility for referees to count on many restarts, players are always under pressure to keep the game flowing. The typical business we see in football when a team is leading and tries to use every opportunity they get at their own restarts to dilly-dally and ensure as much time elapses as possible to run down the clock, frustrate their opponents and destroy their momentum. In four seconds, which is an eternity to Futsal players, the game’s momentum can change ensuring that there is always an entertaining match to watch on the court.

Here’s a great example of what would be nice in football (although not the correct decision).

Football could take a page out of Futsal’s book to improve the flow and entertainment factor in the game.

On the topic of time-wasting, goalkeepers violating the 6-second rule is rampant and widespread in football. No such thing in Futsal with the visible time-count and monitoring of the second touch rule on goalkeepers.

3. Fouls

To someone new to football, a foul may appear like a harmless or accidental act. Then you see more purpose/intent like tactical gain or player frustration.

Can you guess how many fouls happen in a football match? What’s your guess? Post it below.

Now let’s take a look at Futsal.


With the accumulated fouls rule, you’ll find a Futsal game (with the approximate length as football) having far fewer fouls. The sport’s rules lend itself to having a form of self-control and justice. This promotes free-flowing attack and creativity without the worry of being fouled. More Futsal, less gamesmanship. For those of you unfamiliar with Futsal, the rules define that a sixth foul committed by a team in a half is punished by a penalty kick taken slightly further away from goal. This can quickly turn the tables in the game as teams having too much physicality despite a lead can concede continuous fouls and subsequent goals.

Wouldn’t it be nice to see more goals in football and less fouls? Something to think on.

If you are interested in learning more about Futsal, check out the page I have here.

For all it’s faults, football is still ‘a’ if not ‘the’ beautiful game that I’ll always be in love with.


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