Bright new future for Futsal
The fourth FIFA Futsal World Championship kicks off in Guatemala City on Saturday with the future of the indoor game looking brighter than ever.
Sixteen teams will be contesting the futuristic new trophy, 15 of them in an effort to prevent the sixteenth, Brazil, from winning the world title for the fourth straight time. The main challenge is expected to come from Spain, the Netherlands and Iran, all of whom have figured prominently in the three World Championships to date.
But the standard of the game is continuing to rise. "Just a few years ago, there were really only one or two teams of world class," the Chairman of the FIFA Futsal Committee, Ricardo Teixeira (Brazil) told a press conference in Guatemala City. "But now there are many, making the Championship far more competitive. Similarly, there are many more outstanding individuals, which is important in a form of football where individual excellence is given a special opportunity to shine."
Saturday's opening games (Guatemala - Portugal and Brazil - Kazakhstan) are sold out, as are the semi-finals and Final, with many other days in the two-week tournament in heavy demand. The opening and the final and many others of the 40 matches will be played in the brand new Domo Deportivo in the Guatemalan capital, "a facility of which any nation in the world may be proud", as FIFA General Secretary Michel Zen-Ruffinen told the press conference.
Rising technical standards, together with the enthusiasm of the Guatemalan public and the efforts of the local organising committee under Rafael Tinoco, promise to make the fourth Futsal World Championship the best ever.