Results at the Euro Beach Soccer Cup, held in Moscow in December 2005, would tend to demonstrate that in Europe at least, the sport is no longer dominated by countries that enjoy hot climates. Switzerland beat hosts Russia in the final, much to the chagrin of the usual front-runners, France, Portugal and Spain.
The idea of holding a beach soccer competition in Moscow might seem strange, but it has to be said that the tournament will have had a lasting effect on the game. Mere months after the birth of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup, held on the golden sands of Rio de Janeiro, the Luzhniki Sports Complex saw the European hierarchy turned upside down.
Not only did Switzerland win their first ever title, they did it by beating the youthful Russians who also made it to the final. Ukraine finished fourth, thus confirming the progress they made in Brazil in May 2005. Portugal were the only one of Europe's big guns to emerge with some of their reputation intact by finishing third. Perhaps the biggest success story, however, was the tournament itself, with the final day's proceedings played out in front of a packed crowd.
The results from Moscow augur well for the second FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup, which should see even greater competition for the ultimate crown. Sixteen countries will be taking to the Copacabana sands in what promises to be a very special tournament, and you will be able to follow all the action right here, on FIFA.com.
Friday 2 December
Ukraine 6-4 Italy
Portugal 3-3 Spain (1-0 a.e.t.)
Switzerland 6-4 France
Russia 2-1 Belgium
Saturday 3 December
Italy 7-5 France
Spain 8-3 Belgium
Semi-final: Russia 5-3 Portugal
Semi-final: Switzerland 4-4 Ukraine (1-0 on penalties)
Sunday 4 December
7th place play-off: France 4-3 Belgium
5th place play-off: Spain 5-4 Italy
3rd place play-off: Portugal 5-4 Ukraine
Final: Switzerland 4-3 Russia
1 -. Switzerland
2 -. Russia
3 -. Portugal
4 -. Ukraine
5 -. Spain
6 -. Italy
7 -. France
8 -. Belgium
Best goalkeeper: Nico (SUI)
Best player: Buhlitskiy (Goalkeeper- RUS)
Top scorer: Carotenuto (ITA), 8 goals
Highest scoring team: Spain
FIFA Fair Play Trophy: Ukraine