The 4th FIFA Futsal World Championship marked a turning point
in the history of the sport, as the long Brazilian domination,
which had lasted eleven years stretching back to the very first
FIFA Futsal World Championship in the Netherlands, finally came to
an end. Cast in the role of usurpers were Spain, who crossed the
Atlantic and successfully ambushed the three-time world champions.
The southern Europeans were one of a five-strong contingent from
the Old Continent that competed against three South American sides,
three Asian nations, three CONCACAF teams and a sole representative
from Africa and Oceania. Sixteen teams in all then, as in previous
years, and once again the pre-tournament favourites lived up to
their top billing. Brazil, Spain, Russia and Portugal all avoided
the banana skins on their way to the semi-finals, and it was left
to Egypt to raise a few eyebrows by becoming the first African
nation to make it through to the second round. Guatemala 2000 was a
huge popular success, with 94,179 fans turning out to watch the
Inspired by the talismanic Javier Lozano, Spain arrived in Guatemala with one aim in mind: to gain revenge for their defeat on home soil to Brazil in the Final four years previously. The Spaniards never lost sight of that ambition, and in the end got what they came for. Tactically brilliant and well-balanced, they proved too good for the rest. Stunning wins over Cuba, Iran and Argentina in the first round left them with an impressive goal difference of 19 for and only two against. Captain Jesús, Santi, Orol, Paulo Roberto and Daniel, who finished top Spanish scorer with ten goals, all stood out in the first group phase. The Furia carried on in the same vein in the second round too, thrashing Croatia 5-0, settling for a paltry 3-1 win over eventual fourth-placed Portugal, before crushing the Netherlands 7-0.
The semi-final against Russia, however, was a wholly different affair for the Spaniards, however. Perhaps lulled into over-confidence by their previous one-way contests, they found themselves up against an experienced Russian side, well versed at employing their counter-attacking game plan. Semi-finalists four years earlier in Spain, Russia were clearly intent on going one better this time, and when Verishnikov scored one of the best goals of the competition to put them ahead, Spain were stunned. It was Orol who sounded the Spanish charge, rallying his team and sending Paulo Roberto and then Daniel through to put his side in front. The Russians then equalised, before Daniel hit his second in injury time to seal a 3-2 win. The Furia were through for their long-awaited Final showdown with Brazil - and what a classic game that was! Goals were always on the cards - the Brazilians boasted the top three scorers in the tournament thus far - and so it proved, Javi Rodríguez hitting a penalty to give the Europeans a historic 4-3 victory at the end of a breathtaking encounter.
Domo, Teodoro Flores, Ciudad de Guatemala.