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Sand football, also known as beach football, is a sport that emerged in Brazil in the 1950s as an adaptation of traditional football to beach conditions.

Since then, the practice has become popular in several countries, especially in South America, Europe and Asia, and has become a sport recognised by FIFA, with world and continental championships.

In this article, we’ll introduce you to the history, fundamentals and main rules of sand football, which is a dynamic and challenging sport.

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History of beach soccer

Beach football emerged organically on the beaches of Brazil in the 1940s as a form of recreation. The sand provided a challenging and different surface, creating a unique, faster and more technical style of play.

In the 1970s, especially in the city of Rio de Janeiro, the practice began to gain more popularity and organisation.

As a result, several informal tournaments were held regularly on the beaches, attracting more and more players.

From then on, the sport began to be better structured, with the creation of specific rules and the establishment of professional competitions.

Official recognition came with the founding of the International Beach Soccer Federation (Beach Soccer Worldwide) in 1992, which later became the body responsible for organising the sport.

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From then on, sand football began to expand internationally, gaining prominence in several countries around the world.

FIFA recognised the sport’s potential and began to support it, organising the first Beach Soccer World Cup in 1995.

Since then, beach soccer has grown in popularity and become a sport recognised all over the world, with national and international tournaments being held regularly.

How does beach soccer work?

tudo sobre futebol de areia
How does beach soccer work?

Beach football is played on a compacted sand court, which is generally smaller than a traditional football pitch.

Matches are played between two teams, each made up of five players, including the goalkeeper. The rules of the game are similar to those of field football, but with some adaptations.

The matches are divided into three periods of 12 minutes each. The aim is to score more goals than the opposing team within that time.

The match starts with a ball thrown into the air in the centre of the court and from there the players try to advance with the ball, dribbling, touching and shooting towards the opposing team’s goal.

Due to the surface of the sand, the game is faster and more dynamic, requiring special technical and physical skills from the competitors, such as embassies, bicycles, volleys and other plastic moves.

In addition, the sand can affect ball control and the speed of passes and kicks, making the sport more unpredictable and exciting.

As with football on the pitch, there are fouls, cards, penalties, corners, goal kicks, throw-ins and tactical strategies.

One of the big differences between the two disciplines is the retreat to the goalkeeper. In beach soccer, this action can be carried out deliberately.

Beach soccer court dimensions

Professional beach soccer courts are rectangular and need to be between 35 and 37 metres long and between 26 and 28 metres wide.

These dimensions are smaller than a traditional football pitch, which helps keep the game more dynamic and fast-paced.

The playing area is delimited by white lines on all four sides of the rectangle and the surface is made up of compacted sand.

What does a beach soccer ball look like?

The circumference of a beach soccer ball is similar to that of a pitch ball, i.e. between 68 and 70 centimetres. However, it is much lighter and must be calibrated with a pressure of between 0.375 and 0.8 bars.

Equipment used in beach soccer

In professional sand football matches, players must take to the pitch barefoot, wearing numbered shirts and shorts.

In addition, depending on the regulations of the championship, players are allowed to wear certain accessories, such as traditional anklets.

Finally, goalkeepers must wear a different coloured shirt, so as not to be confused with the linesmen, as well as gloves.

Beach soccer rules

beach soccer
Beach soccer rules
  • Teams | Each team consists of five players, including a goalkeeper. Substitutions can be made at any time;
  • Duration | Matches are divided into three periods, each lasting 12 minutes. The match is won by whoever has scored the most goals at the end of regulation time. In the event of a draw, extra time or a penalty shoot-out can be used, depending on the tournament;
  • Ball in play | The match starts with a ball thrown into the air in the centre of the court. As in field football, there are corner kicks, throw-ins and goal kicks if the ball goes out of bounds;
  • Fouls | Fouls are awarded for violations of the rules and can be punished in the same way as in traditional football, with yellow and red cards for serious offences;
  • Free-kicks | In free-kick situations, the player can choose to take the free-kick directly at goal or make a rehearsed tackle, as long as the ball is in motion before it is kicked;
  • Goalkeeper | The goalkeeper is allowed to catch the ball with his hands inside his own area, but can only do so for a limited period. In addition, linesmen can deliberately move the ball back to him;
  • Offences | There are no offences in beach soccer.

Major sand football championships

The Beach Soccer World Cup is the main sand football competition in existence today. It is organised by FIFA every four years.

There is also the Mundialito, which is the second most important world tournament in the sport. It takes place every three years.

In both events, the most important national teams on the planet, such as Brazil, Spain and Russia, face each other in the quest for the title.

That’s it! Now you know all about sand football, including its history, fundamentals and main rules. Did you like this content? Let us know what you think in the comments! It means a lot to us 👊

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