History

Over the past decade and a half, beach soccer has journeyed from the beaches of Brazil to the hearts of millions of fans all over the globe. The participation of internationally renowned players such as the Brazilian Junior Negao, Portugal's Alan and Madjer and the Spanish star Amarelle has helped to expand television coverage to large audiences in over 170 countries worldwide, making beach soccer one of the fastest growing professional sports in the world and converting it into a major showcase for international commercial opportunity.

Beach soccer had been played recreationally all over the world for many years and in many different formats. However, it wasn't until 1992 that the Laws of the Game were envisioned and a pilot event staged in Los Angeles. The following summer, the first professional beach soccer competition was organised at Miami Beach, with the teams from USA, Brazil, Argentina and Italy taking part in what would turn out to be an historic event.

In April 1994 the first event to be covered by network television transmissions was held on the Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro and the city hosted the inaugural Beach Soccer World Championship one year later. The competition was won by the host nation, making Brazil the first ever World Champions of Beach Soccer. The success of the tournament saw international interest begin to match developments on the pitch and growing demand for the sport around the world gave rise to the Pro Beach Soccer Tour in 1996.

The first Pro Beach Soccer Tour included a total of 60 games in two years across South America, Europe, Asia and the USA, attracting major names both on and off the pitch. Interest generated by the tour in Europe led to the creation of the European Pro Beach Soccer League in 1998, providing a solid infrastructure that would increase the professionalism of the spectacle on all levels. The EPBSL, now known as the Euro BS League, united promoters from across the continent and satisfied the demands of the media, sponsors and fans. Only four years on from its creation, the successful first step in the building of a legitimate Worldwide Competition Structure for the sport of Pro Beach Soccer had been taken.

The euro BS league flourished, with a nail-biting 2000 season decided in the closing match of the final tournament when Spain beat Portugal in an intense encounter.

The next four years would see this growth consolidated by further progress both on and off the pitch, with the Euro BS League emerging as the strongest Pro Beach Soccer competition in the world. By 2004, some 17 nations had entered teams, and by 2005 this had risen to 20, leading to more than seventy countries looking to stage events.

2005 saw beach soccer became part of the FIFA family with the first-ever FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup staged on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro. An Eric Cantona-led France defeated Portugal in the final, while hot favourites Brazil fell in the semis.

However, the following year, at the first edition of the tournament to feature16 nations, the Auriverde avenged the previous year's loss, before winning a further three successive world crowns, with the latter two tournaments staged in Marseille and Dubai. The most recent tournament, held in 2011 in the Italian city of Ravenna, saw a new name etched on the crown as Russia saw off Brazil in the final.

Roll of Honour (1995-2004)

2004
Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro (BRA)
Winners: Brazil
Runners-up: Spain
Third: Portugal
Player of the tournament: Jorginho (BRA)
Top goalscorer: Madjer (POR) - 12 goals Best goalkeeper: Roberto (ESP)
Goals: 155 (average: 7.8)

2003
Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro (BRA)
Winners: Brazil
Runners-up: Spain
Third: Portugal
Player of the tournament: Amarelle (ESP)
Top goalscorer: Nenem (BRA) - 15 goals
Best goalkeeper: Robertinho (BRA)
Goals: 150 (average: 9.4)

2002
Vitoria (Espirito Santos) and Guaruja (Sao Paulo) (BRA)
Winners: Brazil
Runners-up: Portugal
Third: Uruguay
Player of the tournament: Nenem (BRA)
Top goalscorer: Nenem (BRA) , Madjer (POR) and Nico (URU) -9 goals
Best goalkeeper: Nomcharoen (THA)
Goals: 145 (average: 9.1)

2001
Costa do Sauipe, Bahia (BRA)
Winners : Portugal
Runners-up: France
Third: Argentina
Player of the tournament: Hernani (POR)
Top goalscorer: Alan (POR) - 10 goals
Best goalkeeper: Olmeta (FRA)
Goals: 144 (average: 7.2)

2000
Marina da Gloria, Rio de Janeiro (BRA)
Winners : Brazil
Runners-up: Peru
Third: Spain
Player of the tournament: Junior (BRA)
Top goalscorer: Junior (BRA) - 13 goals
Best goalkeeper: Kato (JPN)
Goals: 172 (average: 8.6)

1999
Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro (BRA)
Winners : Brazil
Runners-up: Portugal
Third: Uruguay
Player of the tournament: Jorginho (BRA)
Top goalscorer: Junior (BRA) and Matosas (URU) - 10 goals
Best goalkeeper: Pedro Crespo (POR)
Goals: 186 (average: 9.3)

1998
Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro (BRA)
Winners : Brazil
Runners-up: France
Third: Uruguay
Player of the tournament: Junior (BRA)
Top goalscorer: Junior (BRA) - 14 goals
Best goalkeeper: Paulo Sergio (BRA)
Goals: 219 (average: 9.1)

1997
Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro (BRA)
Winners : Brazil
Runners-up: Uruguay
Third: USA
Player of the tournament: Junior (BRA)
Top goalscorer: Junior (BRA) and Venâncio Ramos (URU) - 11goals
Best goalkeeper: Paulo Sergio (BRA)
Goals: 144 (average: 9.0)

1996
Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro (BRA)
Winners : Brazil
Runners-up: Uruguay
Third: Italy
Player of the tournament: Edinho (BRA)
Top goalscorer: Altobelli (ITA) - 14 goals
Best goalkeeper: Paulo Sergio (BRA)
Goals: 131 (average: 8.2)

1995
Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro (BRA)
Winners : Brazil
Runners-up: USA
Third: England
Player of the tournament: Zico (BRA) and Junior (BRA)
Top goalscorer: Zico (BRA) and Altobelli (ITA) - 12 goals
Best goalkeeper: Paulo Sergio (BRA)
Goals: 149 (average: 9.3)