BEACH SOCCER HISTORY
Although the pristine sand of the Copacabana is believed to be the cradle of beach soccer in the mid-50s, marking the beginning of beach soccer is an almost impossible task, as beach soccer has been played naturally for decades, if not centuries…
Acknowledging the sport’s potential, the founding partners of Beach Soccer Worldwide (The Beach Soccer Company) established the rules in 1992 so as to give this dynamic game the backbone to grow, with the first international event taking place in Miami (USA) in 1993.
The rules of beach soccer were created to maximise its unique assets, favouring agility, aerial skill, electric pace, spectacular dribbles and goals – lots of goals. Add to that the music and dynamic atmosphere, then you have the most popular sport on sand.
With those ingredients, beach soccer immediately sparked international interest, and the immediate success of the World Championships quickly turned it into the most popular game on the beach, with the birth of renowned international competitions, such as the Pro Beach Soccer Tour (1996) or the Euro Beach Soccer League (1998), as well as national championships in many corners of the world.
Becoming a part of FIFA
In 2004, beach soccer joined the FIFA family, with the first-ever FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup being staged on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro in 2005. To everyone’s surprise, Eric Cantona’s France defeated Portugal in the final, while clear favourites and hosts Brazil fell in the semis, in what still stands as one of the biggest upsets that they have ever suffered. From that moment on, eight more FIFA Beach Soccer World Cups have marked milestones in the evolution of beach soccer.
After the first three editions (2005, 2006 and 2007) were showcased at the sport’s birthplace, the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup started journeying across the world. Marseille in 2008, Dubai in 2009, Ravenna (Italy) in 2011, Tahiti in 2013, Espinho (Portugal) in 2015, Bahamas in 2017 and Paraguay in 2019 have hosted the biggest beach soccer event of all, which is now held once every two years, with the ninth edition taking place in Moscow (Russia) in 2021.
Becoming a FIFA member gave beach soccer the support to jump onto the world’s sporting stage, and since those first steps on the sands of Rio, beach soccer has grown steadily and has matured hugely, taking a prominent place in the worldwide sporting panorama.
No other sport is as marketing friendly or popular with the media, due to its simplicity, acclaim, and all of that leads to limitless television commercial opportunities. Football Federations, the media, fans, and athletes have all latched onto this sport of finesse, power and energy. The party-style events, showcasing celebrities and professional athletes from other sports, and growing interest from avid fans and casual viewers alike, means that beach soccer is here to stay.
Today, more than 200 countries in the world embrace the sport, with more than 30 top-class international events held annually, featuring both national teams and clubs with both men’s and women’s competitions.