A few days before the start of the first-ever FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup, get the low-down on this spectacular and exciting sport.
Click here to read the Laws of the Game of Beach Soccer
The pitchConsisting, unsurprisingly, of sand, levelled and free of any obstacles that could present an injury risk for the players, a beach soccer playing area must have a minimum depth of 40cm. Between 35 and 37 metres in length, pitches are between 26 and 28 metres wide. The goals are 2.20 metres high by 5.50 metres wide.
The halfway line is demarcated by two posts with red flags. Nine metres out from the goal lines, an imaginary line, marked this time by posts with yellow flags, indicates the penalty area and therefore the spot from where penalties will be taken (at the central point on this line).
Finally, just as in futsal, there is a substitution zone alongside the touchline.
Although of a circumference identical to a normal football (between 68 and 70 cm), a beach soccer ball is considerably lighter. Weighing from 400 to 440 grams, it is inflated at the start of a game to a pressure of between 0.375 and 0.8 bars.
A beach soccer match is played between two teams of five players, one of whom is a goalkeeper. Five additional players are permitted on the substitutes' bench. As in futsal, an unlimited number of substitutions (including the goalkeepers) can be made at any moment during the game.
Beach soccer players are not allowed to play in shoes. They must have bare feet.
He (or she) can pick up the ball within the penalty area and is permitted to wear gloves and a tracksuit.
Each match has two referees, both of whom have equal authority to apply the Laws of the Game. In addition, a third referee and a timekeeper are stationed at the timekeeper's table, which is on the halfway line on the same side as the substitution zone.
A few key rules…
*Matches are played over three equal periods of 12 minutes of effective playing. The time is stopped when a goal is scored, when the referee blows for a penalty or direct free kick, or when a team is trying to waste time (in the view of the officials). There is a 3-minute interval between each period.
*A little bit more
*In the event of a draw, extra time of three minutes will be contested, followed by a penalty shootout, if necessary.
*The ball must be returned into play either by throwing or kicking it to a team-mate. Goalkeepers can only restart play with a throw.
There are no indirect free kicks in beach soccer. All free kicks are direct and taken from the spot where the foul has been committed, or from the halfway line (for certain offences such as time-wasting in the penalty area, a goalkeeper picking up the ball from an intentional back pass by a team-mate, a goalkeeper restarts play by kicking the ball, etc.). A penalty is awarded if the foul is committed inside the penalty area.
Defensive walls are not permitted at free kicks. The player who has been fouled must take the free kick. If the foul has been committed in his own half of the pitch, all players other than the kicker must remain at least five metres from the ball, but not directly between the ball and the goal. If the foul has been committed in the opposition's half of the field, all players must remain behind the ball.
*For certain serious fouls, a player may be shown a yellow card. After a second yellow card, for throwing sand at an opponent or an official or for committing a deliberate foul, the player will be shown a blue card. He will then be suspended for two minutes and cannot be replaced. For very serious offences or after a third caution, a player will be punished with a red card and must return to the changing rooms immediately. After two minutes of numerical inferiority, this player's team may bring on a new player.