Beach soccer going from strength to strength
The moment of truth is nearly upon us. In a matter of hours, Brazil and Uruguay are set to face off to decide who will be crowned champions of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup. For those in charge of ensuring the future of the sport, now is the perfect time to pause for breath and take stock of events so far here in Rio de Janeiro. Read on as we bring you the highlights of the press conference held on Copacabana beach on 11 November 2006, which was chaired by FIFA Director of Communications Markus Siegler.
Ricardo Teixeira, President of the FIFA Organising Committee for Futsal and Beach Soccer World Cups; Member of the FIFA Executive Committee; President of the Brazilian Football Federation (CBF).
With regard to the incident which took place between the Argentina and Uruguay during their quarter-final clash:
You're asking me if I think that the brawl had a positive side in that it proved both teams were determined to win the game? Absolutely not! What would have been good is if they'd both turned up focused on playing good football. It was regrettable and deplorable, and it must not happen again.
Regarding the news that Brazil will host the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup 2007:
We still haven't confirmed which city will host the tournament, although we can confirm that it will be held in Brazil. We have also been asked if we are considering bringing in any changes to the rules or to the number of teams involved, but now's not the time to be talking about that. There are always new proposals on the table, but it will be up to the Committee to get together and decide, once the time is right.
Urs Linsi, FIFA General Secretary
Concerning the way FIFA has supported beach soccer in recent years:
In 2004 Ricardo Teixeira started telling us that we had to take this sport more seriously, and he invited us to start increasing our involvement. These days we're very grateful for the initiative he showed, given that the sport is growing rapidly into one that is well-respected throughout the world. It's very easy to see the progress made in a very short time: today we saw an excellent encounter between Brazil and Portugal, two great teams which proved just how strong beach soccer is nowadays. It's also good to see the great atmosphere currently prevailing in Rio de Janeiro, the ideal place to promote this sport.
With regard to the way beach soccer has progressed over the last year:
Among other things, it comes down to just how easy it is to play. All you need is a ball, players and some sand. Even in Switzerland, where we don't have any beaches, we hold beach soccer tournaments every year. It may be true that the game is played using different rules on every beach across the world, but FIFA are in the process of sending educational material to every member country to try and make these criteria more consistent. At the same time, the concept of Fair Play is vital for this sport to succeed. Aside from what happened between Argentina and Uruguay, which I think was an exception to the rule, those involved in the other games have shown mutual respect and good manners both on and off the pitch.
On the prospect of hosting the competition in a different country as of 2008:
Of course that could happen, but at the moment the most important thing is to promote this sport, and what better place to do so than in its own backyard? One mustn't forget that this sport and these competitions started out in Brazil. We've come here to learn, although we could possibly start rotating host nation duties as happens with the other FIFA competitions. There are a number of places that have shown interest in hosting this event: Bahrain, Dubai, Durban, Marseille, Mauritius, Portugal and Russia. For the time being, we'll hold the event here again in 2007 and then we'll see what happens. As I said earlier, this sport started out here and that should be taken into consideration.
Orlando Silva, Brazil's Minister for Sport
Regarding his feelings on hosting the tournament here in Rio de Janeiro:
At moments like these, I feel I'm in a position to say just how pleased Brazil as a whole is to be hosting this competition. Beach soccer, just like football, is a great way of bringing people from different countries and cultures together. That's been one of the achievements of this tournament, and every game has been packed with emotion. I'd now like to take a moment to say thank you to all those who have made this festival (of beach soccer) possible, and to wish the best of luck to the Brazilian team. Let's hope they can get the right result in tomorrow's final against Uruguay.
On government initiatives which plan to use beach soccer to help bring about social change:
There's no doubt that the beach soccer dynamic and Brazil's footballing heritage could enable this sport to be used in a variety of projects. We don't have any (projects) up in place at the present time, but we're extremely open to any ideas and proposals that people may have. There also might be an opportunity for social institutions to make good use of beach soccer, by encouraging children to play the game and to share its values. We're very aware of just how important that could be.
Luis Felipe Tavares, Executive Member of FIFA Beach Soccer SL, responsible for organising the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup
Regarding the conclusions to be drawn from this year's tournament:
This event serves as recognition of all the time and hard work we've put into beach soccer since 1994, when we held our very first tournament here on the Copacabana beach. Twelve years later, the infrastructure we've established, the progress we've made and the hard work that we've put into everything has been rewarded by FIFA's recognition of our efforts. I'm extremely proud to be part of a team that has taken this sport to more than 150 countries.