International match between Norway and Azerbaijan
|Highest governing body||FIFA|
|Nicknames||Beach football, beach footie, beasal|
|First played||1992 in Brazil|
|Team members||5 at a time|
|Type||Team sport, ball sport|
The game emphasises skill, agility and shooting at goal.
Whilst football has been played informally on beaches for many years, the introduction of beach soccer was an attempt to codify rules for the game. This was done in 1992 by the founders of Beach Soccer Worldwide, a company set up to develop the sport and responsible for the majority of its tournaments to this day. This was a major foundation for what is now known as beach soccer and what has led to the sport rapidly growing in popularity.
The irregularity of the soft-sand playing surface leads to a totally different style of play than is used in football, with a greater degree of improvisation. The compact field, much smaller than a normal football field, allows players to score from anywhere on the sand, leading to an average of sixty attempts at goal in a single game. With an average of scoring rate of one goal every three or four minutes, around eleven goals are scored in total per game.
Beach soccer (beasal) started in Brazil, more precisely at Leme beach, Rio de Janeiro, and has grown to be an international game. The participation of internationally renowned players such as flamboyant Frenchman Eric Cantona, legendary Spanish strikers Michel and Julio Salinas and Brazilian stars such as Romário, Júnior and Zico has helped to expand television coverage to large audiences in over 170 countries worldwide.
Beach soccer had been played recreationally all over the world for many years and in many different formats. In 1992 the laws of the game were envisioned and a pilot event was staged by the founding partners of BSWW in Los Angeles. By 1993, the first professional beach soccer competition was organized at Miami Beach, with teams from the United States, Brazil, Argentina and Italy taking part.
In April 1994 the first event to be covered by network television transmissions was held on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro and the city hosted the first Beach Soccer World Championship in 1995. The competition was won by the host nation, making Brazil the first ever World Champions of Beach Soccer. The success of the tournament saw commercial interest begin to match developments on the field and growing demand for the sport around the world gave rise to the Pro Beach Soccer Tour in 1996.
The first Pro Beach Soccer Tour included a total of 60 games in two years across South America, Europe, Asia and the United States, attracting major names both on and off the field. Interest generated by the tour in Europe led to the creation of the European Pro Beach Soccer League in 1998, providing a solid infrastructure that would increase the professionalism of the spectacle on all levels. The EPBSL, now known as the Euro BS League, brought promoters together from across the continent and satisfied the demands of the media, sponsors and fans. Only four years on from its creation, the successful first step in the building of a legitimate worldwide competition structure for the sport of pro beach soccer had been taken.
Behind the scenes key developments were also taking place, with the Beach Soccer Company relocating its headquarters to Europe, firstly to Monaco and then Barcelona, before becoming Pro Beach Soccer, S.L. in April 2000. One year later they would join forces with Octagon Koch Tavares, who had continued to organise the World Championships and events in South America, to form a single entity known as Beach Soccer Worldwide (BSWW), with the aim of unifying all major Pro Beach Soccer tournaments in the world under the same structure and providing representation of the sport to major sponsors, the media and FIFA.
The EPBSL was also flourishing, a nail-biting 2000 season was decided in the closing match of the final tournament when Spain beat Portugal in an intense encounter. The Americas League also took shape, with teams entered from North and South America, whilst the Pro Beach Soccer Tour extended its horizons to the United Arab Emirates, Thailand, Mexico, Greece, Japan, Australia and the United Kingdom.
In August 2011, Olympic news outlet Around the Rings reported that beach soccer could be vying for inclusion in the 2016 Summer Olympics. FIFA President Sepp Blatter reportedly spoke recently with Rio 2016 president Carlos Nuzman about including beach soccer on the Olympic agenda.
The next four years would see this growth consolidated by further progress both on and off the field, with the EPBSL emerging as the strongest pro beach soccer competition in the world. By 2004, some seventeen nations had entered teams, with this number expected to rise to over  stage events.
Such interest has allowed BSWW to strike major sponsorship deals with international companies including McDonalds, Coca-Cola and MasterCard, who stepped up their involvement in 2004 and are now title sponsors of the Euro BS League. Recognition has also come from FIFA, who have cited BSWW as the major entity behind the creation and growth of Beach Soccer, forming a highly promising partnership that that was in its full splendour seen in the 2005 world cup, held in Copacabana Beach, Brazil. France won the first world cup and the next year Brazil won it at the same venue. The World Cup has continued to flourish with the first held outside Brazil in 2008, and future World Cups spreading as far out as Tahiti in 2013 and Portugal in 2015
Each team consists of five players, including the goalkeeper and an unlimited number of substitutions, from a selection of three to five players. Throw-ins and kick-ins mean the pace and flow of the game are much faster than regular football. Shoes are not allowed, although ankle guards are permitted. Goal kicks are taken by the goalkeeper using their hands to throw the ball.
A game lasts thirty-six minutes, and is split up into three twelve-minute periods. Unlike association football, in professional matches the referee is not the sole arbiter of the end of a period. A separate timekeeping official controls the official game clock, which is stopped for stoppages in play, and typically counts down to zero, as in North American sports such as basketball and ice hockey. Every beach soccer match is won by one team, with the game going into three minutes of extra time, followed by a penalty shootout if the score is still on level terms after normal time. Unlike football, penalty kicks are decided by sudden death rules.
Referees and discipline
Four referees officiate the match, two on the field and one off, controlling the teams benches. The fourth referee is called timekeeper and is controlling the stopwatch on the side. Any fouls committed lead to a free kick on goal, which has to be taken by the player who was fouled, unless awarded for deliberate handling. As in football, yellow and red cards can be issued. However unlike in the main game, when a player receives a yellow card they must leave the field for two minutes and the team must play without that player for that duration of time. When a player receives a red card, they are dismissed from the game entirely. Unlike in 11-a-side football, the team can then bring on a substitute to replace the dismissed player after two minutes.
A beach soccer field is considerably smaller than a regular football field. In international competition, the field is composed entirely of sand and is cleared of pebbles and seashells, along with any other objects which could injure a player.
The field is rectangular in shape, and the touch line is longer than the goal line. The field dimensions are:
- Length: 35–37 metres (38.3–40.5 yards)
- Width: 26–28 metres (28.4–30.6 yards)
The penalty area is within 9 m (9.8 yards) of the goals, and is marked by a yellow flag situated in touch. Two red flags opposite each other are at the center of the field to represent the half-way line. The goals are slightly smaller than their standard association football counterparts, being 2.2 metres (7 ft 3 in) from the ground to the bottom of the crossbar and 5.5 metres (18 ft) in width between the inside of each upright.
Main beach soccer tournaments
The following are main beach soccer competitions:
- FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup
- Intercontinental Cup
- BSWW Mundialito
- Mundialito de Clubes
- The Beach Soccer USA Cup
- The Beach Soccer Championships – Oceanside, California – USA
- North American Sand Soccer Championships – Virginia Beach, Virginia – USA
CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football):
CONMEBOL (South American Football Confederation):
UEFA (Union of European Football Associations):
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