There’s a new sport in town, and everyone’s playing it! Actually, Futsal isn’t really a new sport at all – it’s a variation on an old favorite, but it’s gaining major popularity in the United States right now. Futsal – also called 5on5 or five-on-a-side soccer – looks a lot like soccer, but it has a few different rules that make game play even more dynamic and interesting than traditional soccer. Plus, because there are only five players on the field per team, you don’t need nearly as many players to form a Futsal Soccer club or to play an impromptu game. You do need to understand how the game is played and a few key rules, though.
General Futsal Rules
Each team will have four regular players and one goalkeeper (GK). There are no offside players. The game takes place over two 24-minute halves with a three-minute halftime break. Each coach is allowed to take a single one-minute timeout per half, but the first timeout may not be saved for the second half (use it or lose it). If the game goes into overtime, no timeouts are given, but requests for timeouts may be made to the referee.
The GK is the only player allowed to use his or her hands to play the ball. The GK cannot play the ball for more than four seconds if they are on their own side. If for any reason they are on the opponents’ side, this restriction does not apply. After the GK plays the ball (on their own side), they are not allowed to touch the ball again until an opponent has touched it.
On the Fly Substitutions
Coaches may direct player substitutions freely throughout the game, but players are only allowed to leave or enter the field in designated substitution areas. New players entering the game may not step onto the field until the players they are replacing have left the field. If more than five players from one team are on the field at one time, the team will get a caution, and the opposing team gets an indirect free kick form the position where the ball was in play when the referee stopped the game for the caution call.
Players Must Give Room for Kick Off
When a ball is being kicked off back into play, opposing players must stand back a minimum of five yards until the ball is in play.
Making or Missing a Goal
If a player misses the goal and kicks the ball over the end line of their opponents’ side of the field, the ball is automatically given to the opposing team for kick-off. If the GK catches or stops the ball, they must throw or kick it back into play within four seconds, and the opposing team must stay out of the goal area while the GK is clearing the goal. If the throw or kick does not leave goal area, the point is good for the opposing team. However, if an opposing player touches the ball before it leaves the goal area, the GK will retake the throw.
Fouls and Misconduct
Like soccer, slides are allowed in Futsal, but there are some restrictions. If a slide causes danger to an opponent but doesn’t actually touch them, the player will get a foul for committing a dangerous play. Slides are allowed to direct a ball or intercept it, but if the player contacts an opponent, they will get a foul. Fouls are also given for reckless or careless contact, as well as for using excessive force.
These are the basic rules of this increasingly popular sport. For the most part, it mimics soccer, but it’s a bit simpler with fewer players and more movement. In a lot of ways, Futsal is a lot more entertaining and fun than traditional soccer, so it’s no wonder that it’s getting so popular in the US! For a more complete set of rules and laws, check out FIFA’s Laws of Futsal.