What started as a Brazilian past time has now turned into a hotter, awe-inspiring version of the world’s most popular sport. Beach Soccer started being played on the soft sands of Leme Beach, Rio de Janeiro in the 1980’s and has since expanded to being played in over 75 countries worldwide. The first organized Beach Soccer event was held in Miami, Florida in 1993, and what spawned from there were several other international tournaments that were quickly exposed to the public with the help of known soccer icons like French legend Eric Cantona and Brazilian stars Romario and Zico. With the help of these famous players and big sponsorship deals from businesses like Nike, Heiniken, and Sony, Beach Soccer is now broadcasted in over 180 countries worldwide, and has reached out to over 38 countries to host official events.
Brazil is undoubtedly leading the way for Beach Soccer and has established itself as the dominant superpower of the sport. Brazil is the only country to have competed in every championship since the start, and has won an overwhelming 13 out of 16 championships. The only other teams to have won the coveted prize are Portugal (2001), France (2005), and defending champions Russia (2011). In 1995 the Beach Soccer World Championships were introduced and held on the Copacabana Beach of Brazil. The World Championship which was governed by Beach Soccer World Wide at the time, is the ultimate international tournament. Due to its rapid growth in popularity, it would later be taken over by FIFA in 2005 and rebranded as the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in 2009. The tournament was held in Brazil every year until 2008 when it was held in Marseilles, France. The next year the tourney made it all the way to Dubai, UAE and was re-organized to take place every two years. In 2011 the World Cup was held in Ravenna, Italy and was won by Russia. For the 2013 World Cup, which will be played in Tahiti in September, over 70 countries will fight for the 16 qualification spots offered by FIFA.
With its rapid pace and quick-witted technical capacity, Beach Soccer has developed into a well-liked sport for the youth and lovers of the game. Bicycle kicks, diving headers, and cleaver flicks are normal parts of the game. The ball hardly ever touches the ground and juggling is used as a form of control and passing. Spectacular dribbles and the endless amount of goals make Beach Soccer an amazing spectacle to watch. The beautiful scene in which Beach Soccer is played also contributes to the influential popularity. The sand, sea, and sun offer the perfect environment for spectators to enjoy their time, while music and celebration are just some of the wonderful aspects of the game. Originating in Brazil, the sizzling Samba festivities have elevated the games pleasures and showed what a wonderful combination beach and soccer really is.
The game is played 5 on 5 with a team consisting of 4 outfield players and a keeper. Substitutions are made on the fly and throw-ins and kick-ins are used to bring the ball back into play quickly. For these reasons, the pace of the game is much faster than a regular soccer match. Shoes and shin guards are prohibited, but socks are allowed to protect the feet. A beach soccer match is played over 3 twelve-minute periods, on a 30 by 40 yard pitch, with a penalty area of 9.8yds.
Three referees are utilized for an official match, with two on the pitch and one on the sidelines supervising the team’s benches. There is no offside rule and when a foul is committed a direct free kick is awarded, in which the player who got fouled has to take it (unless it is a deliberate handling penalty). Yellow and red cards are used just as they are in a regular soccer match, but the only differences are when a player receives a yellow card he must go off for 2 min and the team must play shorthanded for the duration of the penalty or until a goal is scored just like a power play in hockey. When a player receives a red card he is sent off from the pitch entirely, but differing from a regular soccer match, a player can then be brought on after 2 minutes, so that the team does not have to play short-handed for the rest of the game.
Beach Soccer is rapidly growing in popularity and is making its presence felt here in the US. Several tournaments are already been established around the country and the US national team has become a regular in the World Cup, making 12 appearances and reaching the final in 1995. With Beach Soccer becoming more and more transparent in the States, youth Soccer has taken notice and implemented practices of fueling kids soccer crazes with additional tournaments and events. Here at soccerloco we support any type of soccer obsession and Beach Soccer is just another way we can express our soccer spirit and ourselves.
This weekend at San Diego’s own Fiesta Island, the Beach Soccer Jam will take place. Beach Soccer Jam will be open to all ages starting with U8 all the way up to an over 30 division. There will be all types of divisions ranging from AYSO and Rec divisions to a Military and Pro division. There will be several types of entertainment and Brazilian Cultural festivities taking place, with food and music also offered to participants and spectators. soccerloco will be present with our spectacularly recognizable mobile trailer where you can enter free giveaways and purchase official tournament gear.