Futsal & Indoor Soccer The Ultimate Guide

Futsal and Indoor soccer are two variations of what is commonly known as soccer (within the United States) and just as football in Europe and the rest of the world. Their popularity is growing at quite a pace for several years now, and there are no signs of stopping.

Futsal vs. Soccer Popularity Statistic

However, many people don’t know much about futsal and indoor soccer. They don’t know the rules, the pitch, the size of the ball, and other stuff.

To make things clearer, we’ve created this futsal and indoor soccer introduction guide.


As mentioned above, futsal is a variation of soccer. It is typically played indoors on a pitch smaller than the standard football ground. Two teams play against each other, and each of the teams can have five players, one of which is the goalie.

Juan Carlos Ceriani, a teacher from Montevideo, Uruguay, is the father of futsal. In 1930 he created futsal as a version of soccer that can be played indoors. Soon enough, the sports was widely accepted across the country and spread in other countries in South America.

Ceriani published the first rulebook in 1933. Much of what he included in the rulebook derived from other sports like polo (goalkeeper rules), basketball (same game duration 40 minutes and the number of players), and handball (goal and field size).

Those rules remained as such until 1956 when Luiz Gonzaga de Oliveira Fernandes and Habib Maphuz modified it. That same year, Luiz de Oliveira published the book “Book of Rules of Futsal.”

The year 1956 turned out to be a turning point for futsal, as Uruguay, Brasil, Argentina, Paraguay, and Peru together formed South American Futsal Confederation.

The name futsal is derived from the Portuguese “futebol de salão” and the Spanish “fútbol de salón.”

The first official futsal championship was held in Sao Paolo in 1982. Brazil won the final against Paraguay and was the first world futsal champion.

The second futsal championship was held in Madrid in 1985. Brazil won the crown for the second time in a row.

Indoor Soccer

Same as futsal, indoor soccer is a variation of traditional football that is typically played indoors. The sport originates from Canada and the United States, where it appeared first. People invented indoor soccer because that’s the only way to play soccer during the winter months.

As a result, many gymnasiums were adapted into indoor soccer plays.

In other countries, indoor soccer is played in both indoor and outdoor arenas. Also, it’s often known under different names.

For example, it is known as “futbol rapido” in Mexico, “futbol indoor” in Spain, and as “snowbol” in South America.

Same as futsal, indoor soccer includes two teams with five players on each side. In some variations, its five players plus one goalkeeper, while other times teams are made of five players with the goalkeeper included.

The World Minifootball Federation (WMF) is the international governing body that deals with all things related to indoor soccer. They are part of FIFA.

Indoor soccer is played on terrains featuring artificial turf, and instead of lines, they are limited with walls. Plus, there are no thrown-ins. Instead, players can use the walls as support during their game.

Difference between Futsal & Indoor Soccer

Soccer is the basis for both Futsal and Soccer, but there are several notable differences between soccer, futsal, and indoor soccer.

But before we go into what separates them, here are the matching features:

  • Two teams try to outscore each other. The team that has scored more goals wins.
  • The goalkeeper is the only player that is allowed to touch the ball by hand.
  • Hurting and intentional kicking a player from the opposing team is not allowed.

Now, let’s talk about their differences.

The Pitch

Soccer is played on fields that are between 100-120 meters long and 60-75 meters wide. On the other hand, indoor soccer is played on pitches that measure 26 x 61 meters. Then there is futsal that is played on pitches that measure at least 15 x 25 meters or maximum 25x 42 meters.

Furthermore, soccer is played on natural grass pitches, while indoor soccer is played on synthetic turf. Futsal’s court is nothing alike as it has a pitch that is made of wood or some other hard material.

The Ball

Both standard soccer and indoor soccer use the size 5 ball that is around 22 cm in diameter. On the other hand, the official futsal ball size needs to be between 24.61″ and 25.0″. That’s somewhere between size 3 and size 4 ball.

Thing is futsal balls have their sizing and are not sized as standard soccer balls. Plus, the futsal ball is way less bouncy than the ball for standard soccer or indoor soccer.

Game Duration

Classic soccer consists of two periods, each 45 minutes long. Futsal’s games are also divided into two equal periods, each 20 minutes long. That comes down to 40 minutes of play.

Indoor soccer games are split into 4 quarters of fifteen minutes each. That adds up to 60 minutes of playtime.


In indoor soccer, there aren’t any throw-ins as there are in standard soccer or futsal. Players are allowed to use the surrounding walls as support.

In futsal, if the ball goes beyond the marked boundaries, then there is a throw-in.

The team that kicked the ball beyond the marked boundaries loses possession, and the opposing team has to thrown-in.


In futsal, each team is allowed to make an unlimited number of substitutions. One player can be substituted multiple times in one game. In indoor soccer, each team can have only up to three substitutes per game.

Futsal Rules

Here is a quick guide to the major futsal rules as outlines by FIFA.

  • 20-minute periods
  • Each team is entitled to a one-minute time-out in each of the periods.
  • Each team can make unlimited substitutions.
  • Sent-off players can be replaced by a substitute player. However, the substitute player can enter the pitch 2 minutes after the sending off.
  • Goalkeepers can hold the ball in their possession for no longer than four seconds.
  • There is no off-side.
  • Goals cannot be scored directly from a kick-off.

Indoor Soccer Rules

Indoor soccer rules are very similar to those of standard soccer, with minor changes.

  • The players stop playing only when the referee blows the whistle for some rule infringement or if someone has kicked the ball beyond the protective boards.
  • There are 3 x 3-minute breaks between quarters and one 15 minute break on half time.
  • Tie games are decided after two additional 15 minute periods. In futsal, the golden rule applies. That means who scores first takes the win. In amateur leagues, there is no overtime.
  • Unlimited substitutes.
  • There is no off-side.
  • Soccer contact rules also apply for indoor soccer.
  • Blue, yellow, and red cards are used by referees to bring order to the game. Blue means 2-minute suspension time, yellow brings 4 minutes suspension, while red takes you out of the game for the remaining time.
  • The three-line indoor soccer rule means that once the ball has been kicked, it cannot cross three lines without touching the pitch.
  • The crease is a zone within the goalkeepers. Players can’t shoot from within that zone unless they have entered the zone with the ball in their possession.

Futsal and Indoor Soccer Equipment

Whether it is futsal or indoor soccer, you will need the following equipment:

  • Shorts
  • Jersey
  • Shoes
  • Ball
  • Goalie gloves (if you are a goalie)

Shorts and Jersey are the same for both sports. Just make sure that they are not too tight or too loose. The best ones are made from 100% polyester. If you are not sure what’s best, then go with the proven brands: Adidas, Nike, Puma, etc.

As mentioned earlier, there is one ball size for futsal and another one for indoor soccer.

Due to the different types of pitch ground, you need to make sure you buy proper sports shoes with the proper bottom for best grip and easier maneuvering. For futsal, you will need sports shoes with rubber outsole.

Best indoor soccer shoes also have a rubber outsole, but with one difference – it needs to be a flat rubber outsole for best performance.

How popular are futsal and indoor soccer in the USA?

Both futsal and indoor soccer may not be as popular as classic soccer, but it is an overall impression they are growing at a decent pace. The United States FUTSAL Federation (USFF) first started working in 1981 governs all things futsal in the USA.

Then there is the United States Indoor Soccer Association (“USIndoor”) that has been working on indoor soccer promotion since 1998.

In recent years, the owner of Dallas Mavericks, Mark Cuban, has shown interest in investing in futsal and indoor soccer leagues. According to several sources, he has already invested in what is advertised as the Professional Futsal League.

Furthermore, a few other NBA team owners have also made investments in futsal and indoor soccer.

The overall impression is that both sports are yet to reach their peak and get the audience they deserve.


Messi, arguably the greatest football player of all time, loves to play futsal in his free time. Then there is Ricardo Filipe da Silva Braga, also known as Ricardinho, who is already a world star in futsal. Ricardinho’s futsal dribbling and goals have even turned him into a Youtube sensation as his videos are getting millions of views.

Then there is Steve Zungul, probably the greatest and most skillful indoor soccer player ever.

What’s common for these players is that they are already legends. Their achievements are exceptional and inspiring. That’s how people are drawn to a sport. That’s why will see more and more of futsal and indoor soccer in the upcoming years.