Is Futsal An Olympic Sport?

Futsal and Olympic games
Written by Damien Gavrilho

To give the short answer: No, futsal is not an Olympic sport. The most asked question of futsal enthusiasts is why is it not an Olympic sport? 

Futsal is one of the most popular sports in South America and Southern Europe and it is fast growing in the other parts of the world. It has a Men’s World Cup held every four (4) years wherein Portugal is the reigning champion. Despite the wide audience and popularity, futsal is still not recognized as an Olympic sport. Why? We can only say the probable reasons.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is the governing body of the Olympic Games. There are requirements and criteria that have to be met before a sport can be recognized by the IOC and be included in the program of events in the Olympic Games. One of the criteria is that the sport should have a women’s and youth World Cup. While futsal has a World Cup, FIFA has not yet created a women’s and youth version though. 

Also, another probable reason is that IOC is making an effort to limit the cost of the Olympics. Cities around the globe are now mindful of spending their funds and their interest in hosting the Olympics is also decreasing. In the most recent Olympic Summer Games, the number of participating athletes was only limited to a number. If futsal will be included in the Olympics, FIFA will cover most of the athlete quota and will be competing for just four medals. That doesn’t sound reasonable for IOC when they are trying to build the finances of the Olympic Games, right?

There is also a theory that there is a political war between IOC and FIFA which involves futsal and its big brother sport, football. Football is in the Olympic Games but there is a certain limitation that only players under the age of twenty-three can play with the possibility of having 3 players over the age limit. Why? Because FIFA believes it is not logical to have football in the Olympics without the limits, then have the Football World Cup two years after as it might take the prestige and limelight out of the World Cup. The IOC does not agree with this but since it is imposed by FIFA, and the IOC believes that football should be included in the Olympics as it is the most popular sport in the world with a big audience, they accepted the age limit requirement.

Whatever the true reasons might be as to why futsal is not an Olympic sport, we believe that futsal is already paving its way to the Olympics. In fact, futsal was featured in the 2018 Youth Summer Olympics held in Buenos Aires. Ten national futsal teams participated both in the boys and girls category with Brazil and Portugal bagging the gold medals for the boys and girls category, respectively. 

It is said that futsal will take part in the next Youth Olympic Games again in 2022 which will be held in Senegal, Dakar. Since futsal was already featured in Special Olympics, there is a glimmer of hope for futsal fans to see the game next in the Olympics proper.

Futsal is widely known and has a huge fan base with its World Cup and large tournaments gathering a large number of sports enthusiasts globally. Commercially speaking, bringing futsal to the Olympics will increase the entertainment factor and bring in more excited viewers. Futsal may already have their World Cup which is indeed the most prestigious tournament for the said sport but joining the Olympics will give futsal new limelight and a broader audience, too.

About the author

Damien Gavrilho

Damien has been a professional futsal player from 1997 to 2010 years. He was playing for FC Atlantic Wolves and Dynamo. Damien has opened his own futsal school in North Dakota, USA and populating futsal all over the United States. Today, Damien is coaching his own team in the amateur USA futsal league. Damien has multiple rewards from the US Futsal Association.

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