Futsal is a fast growing indoor sport very similar to football but with some differences in rules. It became quite popular since FIFA took jurisdiction over this sport in 1989 and because some of the greatest football players of all-time started their careers playing futsal.
But we would like to know how the best futsal clubs from Top 3 futsal countries are communicating on social networks and what could they do to improve their work to help this sport become even more popular globally.
What is futsal?
Futsal is a fast-paced 5-on-5 indoor sport. Its name comes from Portuguese „Futebol de salão“, which can be translated as „indoor futsal“.
Because of the smaller pitch and fewer players than football, futsal requires a high level of ball control and technique, emphasizing player’s improvisation, agility, creativity and passing in small spaces. Therefore, futsal is an excellent breeding ground for football competences because players learn how to react well under pressure. It is not surprising that some of the greatest footballers in the world owe their skills to futsal, like Ronaldinho, Pele, Xavi, Messi, Neymar and others.
The game of futsal is economical, simple, dynamic and it can easily be played by everyone, and everywhere. Thus, it’s very popular among people of all ages. Futsal is nowadays officially recognized by both FIFA and UEFA.
After a big debate and thorough discussion on who invented futsal, Uruguayans or Brazilians, the Uruguayan teacher Juan Carlos Ceraini was declared as the official inventor of futsal in 1930s. The first World Cup in futsal took place in 1982, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, with hosts finishing first. FIFA noticed the big popularity and the potential of this game, and took jurisdiction over futsal in 1989. aiming to make it global. Brazil is undoubtedly the most successful futsal country in the world. Its national selection has clinched seven of ten World Cups (from which last seven were organized under FIFA’s patronage). Spain has two World Cup titles.
Comparison with football
As it was said before lots of great footballers can thank futsal for their level of skills. Even though at first sight the two games are essentially the same, there are a lot of differences in terms of required skills. A futsal player needs to be creative and a master of improvisation. Training sessions are based on first touch, passing and movement. For instance, FC Barcelona developed the famous „Tika-Taka“ by implementing futsal into everyday club training programs.
Some believe that futsal made Brazil the greatest football nation in the world. Lots of former top class players such as Pele, Garrincha, Rivelino, Socrates, Zico, Romario and Ronaldo spent their youth playing with smaller, heavier football. For example, during the last World Cup hosted by Brasil (which was, let’s be honest, very disappointing for hosts), 10 Brazilian players played futsal before they started playing football. Here are a few quotes of some former and current players whose football roots were in futsal:
“Futsal is an extremely important way for kids to develop their skills and understanding of the game. My touch and my dribbling have come from playing futsal.“, Ronaldinho
“In Argentina, when I was a young boy, I used to play a lot of futsal on the street and with Newell’s Old Boys. It was a really fun game that’s helped me become who I am today.”, Leo Messi
Even though futsal can not be compared with popularity and media coverage of his „bigger sibling“ football, it is maybe the fastest growing indoors sport in the world. For example, In Brazil, there are more people playing futsal than football, but there is a much bigger interest in football.
Thanks to FIFA’s patronage and due to the fact that an increasing number of professional clubs are incorporating futsal into their training sessions, futsal rapidly grows in its popularity. FC Barcelona is one of the clubs which implemented futsal into their training sessions and they also have one of the best futsal clubs in the world, often followed by lots of supporters.
— FCB Futbol Sala (@FCBfutbolsala) October 27, 2015
Also, a lot of amateur players play futsal because it is very wallet-friendly sport, and can be played for a small cost and in small areas. Even though it will never achieve the popularity that football has, futsal’s future seams very bright from this point of view. Futsal still doesn’t get enough media coverage in comparison with football, and a lot of money invested in futsal clubs is for short term benefits. Players contracts are also on a yearly basis, so the supporters can not associate themselves and connect on a meaningful level with a certain club. To become more popular globally, futsal organizations and clubs need to use good marketing skills to build finances and attract lucrative sponsorship deals which should result in more media coverage. We have analyzed the social media communication of best futsal clubs from three best futsal countries in the world: Brazil, Spain and Italy
Inter Movistar (Spain) – The best club on social media
Spanish Primera Division de Futsal is probably the best futsal league in the world. Spanish clubs have won seven UEFA Futsal Cup’s (futsal’s version of the Champions league), far more than any other country (Russia and Kazahstan have two titles). The best Spanish club is Inter Movistar, based in Alcala de Henares, a city in the autonomous Community of Madrid. Inter is the most successful European club with record of three UEFA Futsal Cups, three Intercontinental Cups and has won the most Spanish Championships (10). Last year Inter clinched the title with five points more than their fierce rival FC Barcelona. Inter Movistar has a nice website rich with content. The page has Spanish, English and Japanese versions. But, unlike domestic Spanish version, English and Japanese offer only the „latest“ news which are not up to date (last news are from July 15, 2015). Inter has it’s own Facebook page (58, 344 followers), Twitter page (38,073 followers), Flickr, Youtube Channel (4,051 subscribers) and Instagram page (16.3k followers). Communication on their social networks is exclusively in Spanish. Inter is very active on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. The Club is using Instagram mostly for behind the scenes content and some photos from their games.
Hoy gran clásico entre ElPozo Murcia y Movistar Inter. Jornada 6 de Liga. 13 hs. En directo por Teledeporte. #InteristaSoy A photo posted by MOVISTAR INTER Fútbol Sala (@intermovistar) on
Repost @adrian_pola7 La alegría del equipo tras la consecución de la #SupercopaLNFS 2015. A photo posted by MOVISTAR INTER Fútbol Sala (@intermovistar) on
Twitter is mostly used for live commentary and publishing relevant information about the game. The content is up to date as well. They also occasionaly retweet their fans’ tweets.
The club is most active on Facebook during match days. They publish an official announcement of the game, the final score, statements from the game and official photo gallery as well as a short match highlights video, only several hours after the game. They also use their own Youtube channel for these and other videos.
Inter Movistar is using their social networks in a good way. They are fast when it comes to creating content which is up to date. In my opinion their only setback could be the lack of material in English.
With bilingual content they could attract more supporters from all over the world and popularize the club and the sport. Even though they use Twitter to communicate with fans by retwetting some of their tweets, they should encourage more fan engagement. Also, they do not use infographics at all.
Jaragua (Brazil) – Grateful to supporters
The best Brazilian futsal club and one of the most successful sports clubs in Brazil is Associação Desportiva Jaraguá, situated in southern Brazil. Jaragua has won 26 national trophies and is the most successful club of the Copa Libertadores de futsal, winning 6 tournaments. But, on the other hand, they lost four games against Spanish representatives in the finals of the Intercontinental Futsal Cup.
Their communication is exclusively in Portuguese. They have a solid official website and Facebook is the only social media platform that Jaragua uses. They have 17,597 likes on their Facebook account and they are very active. They use lots of infographics and what is interesting, in almost every post they are thanking their fans for support. „That’s JARAGUÁ FUTSAL!!!!
Unconditional love“. „Thanks to all the fans, we exist for you“. „All roads lead to the Arena Jaraguá. We still have tickets for the game. Come and be part of that show.“ „Together we are stronger!“, „We have tradition!!, We have supporters!! We have union!! We have faith!!“.
Even though not quite often, they use interesting and very emotional video materials with local Brazilian music in background, and official hashtags to invite people to their games.
The negative is their communication in Portuguese only and the use of only one social media platform. If they used English in communication on social, they would create a better connection with their fans. Using Twitter and Instagram would help the same cause and increase their fanbase.
Luparense (Italy) – The best web site!
Italy is the third best futsal country of in the world. Their national selection has one World Cup silver medal and two European gold medals including the last one played in Belgium (2014). Their best club is Luparense Football Club, from San Martino di Lupari (Veneto region), which has its football and futsal section after merging of two local clubs from different sports in 2015. Unlike the football club which is currently competing in the seventh rank of Italian football, the futsal club Luparense is the best Italian club with five national championships and three national Cups.
Luparense communicates exclusively in Italian. The club has an excellent web site, which has a very nice, modern design and it is pretty simple. The problem is you have to scroll to the bottom of the page to find icons to connect with their social networks. They are using Facebook (4,740 likes), Twitter (1,511 followers) and Youtube (116 subscribers) for communication with fans.
Luparense is very active on Facebook and Twitter. They use Facebook mostly for game announcements for both football and futsal clubs of Luparense and to post big photo galleries from those same games. They use infofraphics to mobilize supporters for the game, but not as often as they should. They use Twitter mostly for live commentary of their matches. Luparense also has a very good Youtube channel which contains match highlights, statements from the players and more.
Even though they have good communication on social as well as a great website, they should consider separating the two teams (football and futsal) online. To have better communication with their local and national fans maybe they should have two different profiles for both clubs just like the FC Barcelona nad Dynamo Moscow have.
Conclusion – Still a lot of room for improvement
Communication of the best futsal clubs from Top3 futsal countries of all times – Brazil, Spain and Italy – is not bad. They all have really good official websites with lots of content and they are more or less actively using all the main social media platforms (except the Brazilian most successful club Jaragua which uses only Facebook). But there is still a lot of room for improvement. Just like futsal, which cannot be compared with popularity and media coverage of football, communication of the best futsal clubs also cannot be compared with communication of best futsal clubs.
Firstly, they all communicate exclusively in their native language. They don’t utilize the available fan engagement in their communication and rarely use infographics and interesting unconventional content. For example, Luparense is using the same social media platforms for both football and futsal club even though their futsal club is one of the best in the world and football club plays in seventh rank of Italian football.
Futsal has a long tradition in my home country Croatia, even though six-a-side version of indoor football was more popular over the years. But futsal is here mostly played by amateurs in local tournaments and fields. Croatia has a solid national futsal league but there hasn’t been enough interest from the public and media over the years. However, that trend is changing mostly because the ultras group of football club Dinamo Zagreb, Bad Blue Boys, entered the Croatian futsal world with their club Futsal Dinamo. Football club Dinamo’s supporters are dissatisfied with current leadership of the club. Via Futsal Dinamo they want to demonstrate a democratic model of club ownership on which its football counterpart Dinamo should function. Because of Futsal Dinamo, futsal now has solid media coverage and general public interest.
The future of this sport seems very bright, but a lot lies on best futsal clubs and national associations and their participation in its promotion. Futsal will never become popular as football (one of the reasons is FIFA never letting that happen), but with good marketing strategy and improved communication on social networks futsal could become one of the most popular indoor sports in the world.