The origin of futsal can be traced back to Montevideo, Uruguay, in 1930 when Juan Carlos Ceriani created a five-a-side version of football for youth competition in YMCAs. The game was played on basketball-sized courts, both indoors and out without the use of sidewalls. The sport began to spread across South America, especially in Brazil were the sport was developed on the streets of São Paulo and its popularity ensured that a governing body was formed under the name of FIFUSA (Federación Internacional de Fútbol de Salón) in 1971.
The term futsal is the international term used for the game. It is derived from the Spanish or Portuguese word for “soccer”, FUTbol or FUTebol, and the French or Spanish root word for “indoor” or “room”, SALon or Salle or SALa. Taken literally, Futbol means ‘foot and ball’ (i.e. playing outdoors) and futsal indicates ‘Futbol in room’ (i.e. playing indoors).
The first FIFUSA World Championships were held in São Paulo in 1971, with hosts Brazil crowned champions ahead of Paraguay and Uruguay. Even more countries participated in the second World Championships held in Madrid in 1985. Due to a dispute between FIFA and FIFUSA over the administration of fútbol, FIFUSA coined the word fut-sal in 1985.
FIFA took control of the World Championships in 1989. Under new rules made by FIFA, the technical aspects of the game for players and spectators were improved. The linesmen were replaced with a second referee and there were unlimited substitutions. It also introduced a size 4 football, which was weighted to reduce bounce by 30% compared to a conventional ball, which enabled faster play and, for the first time, scoring goals with the head.
FIFA’s relationships with its member associations allowed more countries to gain knowledge and resources about futsal. FIFA soon began to administer its own indoor football games, hosting its first FIFA Indoor Soccer World Championship in 1989 in Rotterdam, Netherlands. In 1992 it was the FIFA Five-a-Side World Championship (Hong Kong) and since 1996 it has been called the FIFA Futsal World Championship. Thanks to the increase of the number of nations that participated in the FIFA Futsal World Championships held in 2000, Brazil’s dominance in the competition was ended by Spain.
In 2004, members of PANAFUTSAL (La Confederación Panamericana de Futsal, The Pan-American Futsal Confederation) formed AMF (Asociación Mundial de Fútbol de Salón, World Futsal Association), an international futsal governing body independent of FIFA. Both FIFA and AMF continue to administer the game.