The inaugural FIFA Futsal World Championship was held in the
Netherlands - a fitting location given the fledgling sport's
great popularity in the low countries. The Dutch Football
Federation were also celebrating their centenary in 1989, so the
event was held in a doubly festive spirit. Sixteen teams took part,
setting a trend that has been followed in all tournaments since:
six European sides, three from South America, two from Africa, two
Asian sides and two from CONCACAF joined the one representative
from Oceania to compete for the world crown. The Old Continent did
well, with two of its teams, Belgium and the Netherlands, making it
through to the semi-finals. The United States surprised many by
earning a well-deserved third place, but no-one could stop Brazil,
who showed just why they had arrived in the Netherlands with such a
fearsome futsal reputation.
Brazil did take a while to get going though, even losing to Hungary 3-2 in their opening group game, but thereafter responded wonderfully well. Faced with a situation where they simply had to win to progress, they began by thrashing Saudi Arabia 8-0 and then overwhelmed Spain (4-1). Raul and Benatti began to come to the fore in those games, and two went from strength to strength in the latter stages to earn their places in the team of the tournament. Safely through to the second group phase, the Auriverde stepped up another gear to dispose of Paraguay (5-1) and Argentina (6-3) to qualify for the semi-finals.
Belgium were next up, and they proved quite a handful, playing the Brazilians at their own game and deservedly holding the South Americans to a 3-3 draw. It was left to penalties to separate the sides, and when Schreus missed Brazil were through to the Final. There they faced the hosts, with their star striker Vic Hermans (player of the tournament). Playing in their second strip of blue, the Brazilians were soon in front thanks to a Benatti effort, but the Netherlands drew level via Loosveld. The winner came in the 46th minute, when Raul silenced the 4,200 home fans in Rotterdam to send Brazil to the very peak of world futsal - a position they would remain for the next eleven years.
Rotterdam, Arnhem, Leeuwarden, Amsterdam, s'Hertogenbosh