Staged six times to date, the FIFA Futsal World Cup has generated no shortage of excitement and passion over the years, with Brazil having dominated the competition so far.
Of the 37 nations who have graced the tournament since it was held for the first time in the Netherlands in 1989, the Brazilians have been in a league of their own, winning it four times, their last success coming on home soil in 2008.
The early years
Sixteen teams from six continents contested that inaugural FIFA Futsal World Cup, which ended with A Seleção seeing off the host nation in the final.
The Brazilians would retain their title three years later in Hong Kong, beating USA in the showpiece match, the final act of a competition that featured seven new sides and saw standards rise considerably.
The men in yellow and green made it three wins out of three in Spain in 1996, but were pushed all the way by the hosts in a gripping final that ended 6-4 to the South Americans, with the result in doubt until the final minute. It was a sign of things to come.
New champions are crowned
Brazil’s domination of world futsal came to an end four years later in Guatemala, when the Spaniards exacted sweet revenge, lifting the title by claiming their first ever win over Brazil in the tournament.
The average crowd at Guatemala 2000 was 5,601, a world finals record, with the overall attendance of 224,038 only being topped at Brazil 2008.
In 2004 the competition took place in Chinese Taipei, its first visit to Asia. The tournament threw up a host of surprises as Spain won their second world crown by overcoming Italy in the final, with the mighty Brazilians finding some consolation in beating neighbours Argentina in the match for third place.
Brazil back on top
Brazil’s expectant supporters were celebrating again when the country welcomed the futsal elite in 2008, the hosts regaining their place on the throne with a fourth tournament win. It was a close-run thing, however, as Falcao and his team-mates edged out the dogged Spanish on penalties at the end of another cliffhanger of a final.
Brazil 2008 attracted no fewer than 292,161 spectators, an all-time high for the FIFA Futsal World Cup, and served up a total of 387 goals, 80 more than the previous tournament record set at Hong Kong 1992.
All eyes on Thailand
The cream of world futsal will come together again in Thailand this November for an enlarged world finals featuring 24 teams in all, four more than in Brazil four years ago.
The popularity of the game in Thailand, which boasts its own national championship, was a major factor in the Asian nation being awarded the competition, and organisers are expecting a record number of fans to flock to the event.
Thai futsal supporters are sure to be in for a treat when the world’s finest futsal players come to town. It remains to be seen, however, if a new name will be engraved on the trophy or if Brazil will continue to rule the roost and pull level with the country’s national football team by claiming world title number five.