Year in, year out and the question remains in the air: why is futsal still not an Olympic sport? Practiced since the 1940s as an adaptation of field football and made official in 1954 with the creation of the Futsal Federation of Rio, the oldest on the planet, the sport has, for at least three decades, the desire to be part of the Games Summer Olympics. But then what prevents the dream from coming true? The key is the lack of representation with the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
While newly admitted Olympic sports like surfing, skating and rock climbing insisted for years to be in the Olympics, futsal remained inert. Worse. The distance between FIFA, which has managed the sport since 1989, and the IOC makes the objective even more distant.
However, over the years, pressure from the sports community has made the IOC open the way to the long-awaited understanding. The starting point was the adhesion of futsal to the Youth Olympic Games. The premiere took place in the Buenos Aires 2018 edition.
Futsal World Cup starts this Sunday in Lithuania — Photo: Angel Martinez/FIFA
– This partnership between the International Olympic Committee and FIFA is what can bring futsal to the Olympics. We listen to a lot of things. First, there was no female. Now we have female. Then we heard that there was no futsal in many countries. We are already in over 180 nations. The point is this. Futsal is already well structured around the world, including in the youth categories. What is needed is an understanding between FIFA and the IOC – said the supervisor of the Brazilian futsal team, Reinaldo Simões.
In 2021, another move may have helped futsal move towards its long-awaited goal. Managed by the Brazilian Futsal Confederation from 1979 to April this year, the sport – at least the management of the Brazilian teams – passed into the hands of the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF), which has direct transit with FIFA.
– CBF needs to be our representative within the IOC. If we were humble with Fifusa, we could perhaps have had more representation. It is no longer possible to discuss, but this thing did not happen in a correct way – said the commentator of futsal at Globo and SporTV, Marcelo Rodrigues.
Gianni Infantino, FIFA president, and Thomas Bach, IOC president, meet in 2020 — Photo: Denis Balibouse/Reuters
Marcelo refers to the period between 1971 and 1989, when international futsal was organized by the International Federation of Indoor Football, Fifusa. With the entry of FIFA in 1989, Fifusa lost its strength and began to be relegated to the background.
One of the most powerful entities on the planet, FIFA has its Futsal World Championship, every four years, as the high point of its relationship with the sport. Within FIFA, there is even a fear that futsal’s entry into the Olympics could transform the Olympic tournament into the most important competition on the international calendar.
– We need politics and not politicking. It’s no use having a sport well played, working well, but without representation. It’s raining in the wet. We are just the factory floor. What has to be done is lobbying within the Senate or Chamber, first to regularize the profession. Then we will look for the right people in the political area to have this representation – commented the technical assistant of the Brazilian team, Paulinho Cardoso.
Futsal is currently played in over 180 countries — Photo: Angel Martinez/FIFA
Another point raised by the technical committee of the Brazilian team is the need for some futsal representative to always be “knocking on the door” of the IOC in order to always be reinforcing the sport’s will to be present at the Olympics.
– We have to do a work of excellence here in order to charge CBF to charge FIFA to charge the IOC. It’s no use just one screaming on one side. We have to have representation, someone to knock on the door. If the Olympic modalities are there, there is a reason. We have to show that futsal is capable through representation – concluded the Brazilian national team coach, Marquinhos Xavier.
This Sunday, the Lithuanian Futsal World Championship begins. Initially scheduled for 2020, the tournament was postponed due to the new coronavirus pandemic. 24 teams are taking part in this year’s FIFA World Cup. Brazil is in group D alongside Vietnam, Czech Republic and Panama. The premiere will be this Monday, at 2 pm, against the Vietnamese broadcast by Globo, SporTV and real time in ge.