ALGHERO, September 30, 2018 – White amber grains arranged and styled in a wavy manner, the sand is the great protagonist. At a high speed, Beach soccer has shortened distances and pulverized stereotypes.
Beach Soccer has put ‘futbol bailado‘ on the bench while it colours summer and winter on the beaches of Rio de Janeiro and Brazil. Now it is a craze, a trending topic that binds fans from every corner of the globe. From Italy to Russia, Portugal, Spain, South America, and Asia.
Last year, beach soccer attracted more than 500 thousand spectators and over 250 million viewers in 180 countries. It has continued to collect interests and cheques from sponsors and multinationals, especially since it is under the big hat of FIFA.
Meanwhile Beach Soccer Worldwide, which is the association that actually manages and coordinates international activities, has set up a non-stop billboard that touches the 5 continents. The official website www.beachsoccer.com welcomes millions of users, thanks to the work of the Catalan pioneers Joan Cusco and Gabino Renales.
There was a successful mix of business vision and sand show recently in Alghero, Italy, where the Euro League FIFA Qualifier assigned six places for the European Games scheduled in Minsk, Belarus, in June 2019.
The FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup comes up in November 2019. Paraguay, Australia and Barbados have expressed interest to host it. Brazil are the defending champions. The last edition was held in the Bahamas.
Beach soccer provides a tour of the world that not only guarantees diplomatic relations but also makes the highest world football organization an instrument to combine sport and tourism. From Dubai to the Bahamas, but passing through Mexico and Iran, where political and institutional threads of great importance are woven with the language of sport is the case of Beach Soccer.
Over the years, ex-stars of the football on grass have lent themselves to beach soccer and one of such is, Eric Cantona, Le Roi of Old Trafford. Romario, O Baixinho, and Zico were also quite at ease with their bare feet, a custom for Brazilians that have honed their talent on the seashore. Then Michel and Julio Salinas, pieces of Real Madrid and Barcelona in the eighties and Nineties have also contributed to the success of beach soccer.
Now there are beach soccer players as phenomenal as the Russian Ilya Leonov – who has perhaps been the strongest in the world, the green-haired Bruno Xavier, and the Italian Gabriele Gori, a formidable ace of bicycle kicks who has led Italy to become champions of Europe.
FIFA President, Gianni Infantino made his beach soccer debut at the world championship in the Bahamas, in 2017. He became aware of a discipline that allows football to have no fences or barriers. “I had fun,” he repeated often. FIFA has a department that manages beach soccer’s official events.
Brazil are the king of beach soccer with 14 titles won. Russia and Portugal have won the world title twice while France have clinched it once. There are permanent camps and schools for beach soccer, or futevolei throughout Brazil.
In 2005, beach soccer became a part of the FIFA family, with the first-ever FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup happening that same May at the Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro.
Source: Gianfranco Coppola, AIPS Europe EC Member