While the stadiums of Taipei vibrated to the thrilling action at the FIFA Futsal World Championship last December, across town in the magnificent auditorium of the city's Grand Hotel there was an altogether more sedate, though no less entertaining, event taking place: the II FIFA Futsal Seminar. For the first time, the event was broadcast live on the Internet, allowing the sport's legions of followers to participate in the seminar from every corner of the planet.

The seminar was split into three parts: the first focused on the sport's technical development, the second on its administration, and the third on its future. The broad focus ensured that the fundamental issues affecting the overall development of the sport in Asia would all be covered. The President of FIFA, Joseph S. Blatter, opened each day's sessions with a recorded message in which he applauded the growth of the sport and pointed to its bright future under the aegis of the Federation. The FIFA General Secretary, Dr. Urs Linsi, and the President of the FIFA Futsal Committee, Ricardo Terra Teixeira, were in personal attendance in Taipei, calling on all those present to work together for the global development of the sport. Head of the FIFA Development Division, Mary Harvey, was given the task of moderating the sessions.

The experts have their say
Vicente de Luise, the former Argentina and Thailand coach, got proceedings underway with a well-received presentation on how to optimise, in clear and structured stages, the technical level of Futsal within a country. The steps outlined by de Luise, which drew on his expertise in developing the sport in Asia and South America, proved exceptionally useful for many visiting delegates, who expressed a desire to put his ideas into practice in their respective countries.


Next was the Netherlands coach and FIFA Instructor, Vic Hermans, who followed his presentation at the inaugural seminar in 2000 with an updated and expanded exposition this year. One of the Europe's outstanding talents during his playing days, Hermans drew on his unique perspective of the game to instruct the participants on the specific duties and responsibilities of today's Futsal coach.

After a short break, Tom van der Hulst, a refereeing instructor and member of the FIFA Futsal Committee, explained the official changes that had been made to the Laws of the Game from the inaugural championship until the present day. His presentation served to highlight the giant strides that the sport had taken in its short history.

The next speaker was Pedro Galán, one of FIFA's most respected international referees. Having finished an exemplary refereeing career at the Chinese Taipei Championship, Galán was the ideal candidate to provide a concise history of Futsal refereeing. Fernando Tresaco-Gracia, also from the Refereeing Department, closed the session by explaining by way of a video presentation how the refereeing was being carried out at the Taipei Championship.

On the second and final day of the Seminar, the President of the Italian Futsal Committee, Fabricio Tonelli, outlined the important role marketing would play in the growth of the sport, using the example of his native Italy, where the sport has being growing exponentially in recent years.

Concluding the expositions was João Rocha, a Futsal Consultant with the AFC. Using a visually arresting multimedia presentation, Rocha detailed his proposals for the sport's short and long term development across Asia.

Some of the liveliest and most edifying exchanges came when those present in Taipei as well as those attending online were invited to ask questions and make suggestions to the expositors. The general consensus among those that participated in the II FIFA Futsal Seminar was that the event was an unqualified success. It served to show the enormous appreciation and popularity that the sport enjoys among the world's sporting community, and demonstrated that many Asian countries are already working extremely hard to promote Futsal and develop their own national championships. 

Anybody wishing to read details of the presentations or see recordings of the memorable Taipei Seminar may do so at the following address: www.fifafutsalseminar.com