Back in 2013 I wrote an article called “5 Rule Changes For Futsal” and last year “Why Throw-Ins Should Return & Other Rule Changes To Enhance The Game“. Futsal seems to have continued to have lower scoring than previously.
The last UEFA Futsal Euro was almost a goal lower than the previous lowest scoring tournament of the six played with 12 teams. In Spain, the average goal per game has remained around the lower rate that appeared in the mid-to-late 2000s.
I would like to add an update to some of those rules I put forward and propose a further couple of suggestions that could enhance the sport. As always, the idea is not to alter the essence of the game but to emphasise the elements the make it the greatest sport in the world. Even when you are the best, you can still get better.
In that original post I proposed reintroducing throw-ins and wrote a more detailed analysis in the most recent one. Opinions on this are highly polarised, with many strongly for and others strongly against.
Those in favour highlight the more goals and quicker speed with throw-ins whilst those opposed argue kick-ins strengthen futsal’s distinctive identity from football. I think there is a potential solution that achieves the advantages of both.
My proposal, which got a small mention in the last article but I now believe is the answer to gain a consensus between the two sides, is that from all kick-ins and free-kicks the taker could take more than one touch. In other words, they could dribble the ball directly.
From kick-ins you would not have to wait for your teammates to get in position to receive the ball, speeding up the game. Neither would the defence have time to organise, leading to more goals. Plus it would offer the potential for more variety and creativity in set play design.
Deciding A Game
I have also suggested reinventing extra time by taking a player away from each team per period so initially it would be 4v4 and then reduced further if the scores are still level. A similar system is used in ice hockey and it has proved extremely popular.
As with any of the ideas, they would need to be trialed initially before being rolled out. As Donald Rumsfeld said as US Secretary of State for Defence there are “unknown unknowns”, things we don’t know we don’t know, that only become apparent when we see it in action.
A similar rule, although with a golden goal element, was tried in France between Inter Movistar B and Nantes Metrople. Have a look at the video below. It would be good to see more trials like this and see how it is received.
New Rule Suggestion: 1
One of the most exciting aspects of futsal is the 1v1 battles. It is a sport that continually puts players in situations where they must get the better of their direct opponent. However, we are seeing fewer and fewer players dribbling with a resulting detrimental effect on the spectacle.
I believe one reason for this is goalkeepers’ mastery of the sweeper keeper role. They are covering their teammates and dominating the space behind the defence very well. This effectively creates a 5v4 situation in favour of the team out of possession (if the fly goalkeeper is not being used).
A solution to this would be that the goalkeeper is not allowed to touch the ball in their own half outside their area. Previously, goalkeepers were not allowed out the area though I wouldn’t support this as it prevents the use of the fly goalkeeper.
A negative side effect is this would stop goalkeepers taking the ball in their area and initiating a counter attack by dribbling the ball upfield. This could be overcome by changing the rule so that goalkeeper can’t make their first touch within their own half outside their area but can control the ball in their area and bring it forward. The trade off is that this added aspect could make it a little more complicated for referees and beginners.
New Rule Suggestion: 2
An amazing characteristic of futsal is the number of goals scored in the last few seconds that change a game. This could be increased by only ending a game once the clock has finished and the ball goes out of play. So, the attacking team know they have time to create one more chance in the last few seconds and every game that is within 1 goal difference would have an edge-of-the-seat finish. It would also help referees on those rare but highly controversial occasions when there is uncertainty if a goal was scored before the clock timed out.
The way futsal is played under FIFA today only stabilised in 2000 and since then the game has become far more professional with teams much more organised and with higher physical capacity. Therefore, I think there is a definite need to re-evaluate the rules and how we can make this inherently fast and dynamic game as enjoyable as possible for players and fans.
I would love to hear your opinions!