Football & Futsal

By Christof Niklaus

2nd World Deaf Futsal Championship

Twelve days in Sofia saw several elite deaf futsal footballers come together to battle it out for the 2nd World Deaf Futsal Championship. Let me explain what futsal is because it is still a relatively new sport - unknown to many.

Futsal is an indoor version of football. The name started from the Portuguese ‘futebol de salão’ and the Spanish ‘fútbol sala/de salón’ - translated as 'indoor football'.

Futsal is played between two teams of five players, one of whom is the goalkeeper.  Unlike some other forms of indoor football, the field of play is more skillful with lines - not boards or walls that players can use to redirect the ball.  Futsal is played with a size 4 ball, which is slightly heavier and smaller than the usual size 5 ball used in football.

Other forms of indoor football games, which are played by somewhat different rules, exist and may be referred to as indoor football, five-a-side football.  The main differences between five-a-side football and futsal:

Five-a-side football
  • Five players on court - limited substitutions;
  • No bye-lines or sidelines, use of walls or rebound boards, ball constantly in play;
  • Only defending goalkeeper allowed in penalty-area;
  • Height restriction on ball;
  • Low and wide rectangular goals;
  • Felt ball often used.
Futsal
  • Five players on court - rolling substitutions;
  • Touchlines and bye-lines used with the ball always returned to play via kick-in;
  • All players can enter penalty-areas;
  • No height restriction on ball;
  • ‘Squarer’ goals (3m x 2m);
  • Regulation futsal ball: size 4 with a 30% reduced bounce.

Altogether 30 countries, 20 men and 10 women teams competed at the 2nd World Deaf Futsal Championship.

As always, a World Championship of any sport attracts the best players into the tournament.  This time was no exemption as there were several fantastic deaf futsal footballers to enjoy from the viewing stands.

Stephanie Ziegler of Germany, Beate Hagdahl Solem of Norway and Denise Gardoni of Italy were some of those exceptional futsal footballers that really stood out in the women championship. 

In the men championship, the defensive partnership of Andriy Savytskyy and Vasyl Azhnyuk of Ukraine had a big contribution to Ukraine’s success while Roman Dudin of Russia, Milan Maksimovic of Serbia, Majid Awadh Al-Asmari of Saudi Arabia were a joy to watch with their amazing dazzling skills which outfoxed their opponents.

The biggest winners, for me, was the Thailand team who arrived in Sofia as virtual unknowns and departed as a force to be reckoned with, making a lot of friends and admirers with their superb attitude and teamwork.

Both the women and men finals were of unbelievable standard and pleased the noisy crowd on the final championship day.  Germany overcame the European Deaf Champions Russia 3 - 2 in a tactical-like Women Final while Ukraine beat Thailand in a thrilling see-saw Men Final that just took your breath away.  England (Women) and Italy (men) took the bronze in the championship.

How could I forget the passionate entertaining opera-like Italian manager who even sometimes took the attention away from his own Italy team!  All in all, it was a very successful World Deaf Futsal Championship and so a big thank you to the Championship Organising Committee for their hard work before and during the championship, in particular the constantly-in-demand Eli Zaharieva.

I also would like to thank Dogan Ozdemir and Josef Willmerdinger from ICSD Executive Committee for their support throughout the championship.  Already, there are several interested countries bidding for the rights to host the 3rd World Deaf Futsal Championship in 2011, so watch this space.

There are some excellent photos of the action during the championship.

Final standings - Men:Final standings - Women:
GOLD Ukraine
SILVER Thailand
BRONZE Italy
4th Russia
5th Bulgaria
6th Sweden
7th Netherlands
8th Saudi Arabia
9th Serbia
10th England
11th Switzerland
12th Macedonia
13th Israel
14th Norway
15th United Arab Emirates
16th Turkey
17th Ireland
18th Azerbaijan
19th Slovakia
20th Kuwait
DNF Uzbekistan
DNF Guinea
DNF Sierra Leone
DNF Colombia
GOLD Germany
SILVER Russia
BRONZE England
4th Norway
5th Denmark
6th Italy
7th Israel
8th Turkey
9th Sweden
10th Switzerland
DNF Japan

Click herePDF for official results and fixtures.

1st World Deaf Football Championship

In the last Enews I said that there would be an announcement as to who have entered the upcoming inaugural World Deaf Football Championship in 2008 after all the countries have paid their deposit. 

Unfortunately, there has been a slight delay to this due to a request from the Championship Organising Committee in Greece to change the venue from Katerini to Patras, which is west of Athens.

I am going to carry out a site inspection of the facilities in Patras in mid-December and will make an announcement early January. 

If you need to get in touch with the World Deaf Football Championship Organising Committee, their new email is: wdcf2008@hafdeaf.gr (please copy your emails to stoufis@hafdeaf.gr).

I wish all football fans around the globe a very happy Christmas and a Happy New Year in 2008.

Yours in football

Christof Niklaus
ICSD Technical Director - Football