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A major new study into futsal, FIFA and UEFA's official version of five-a-side football, shows the sport is taking off in the UK but that more needs to be done to invest in facilities and infrastructure.

The study, carried out by Sheffield Hallam University's Sport Industry Research Centre, shows that nearly 2,000 teams made up of more than 12,000 people played the sport during a two-month period in 2013.

They also found that people were switching to futsal from other small-sided football games but that barriers to participation such as the quality of facilities are an issue.

The study authors, Richard Moore and student James Radford, also reported that more than a third (39 out of 90) of football league clubs operated a futsal education programme in 2012 with major centres established in Leeds, Stoke, Swindon, Sunderland and Birmingham.

The findings are good news for the Football Association, which has committed to develop futsal as a national sport as a part of its Small-Sided Football Strategy, particularly as the sport is being used to develop the next generation of young footballers with the aim of improving technique, movement and awareness.

Simon Walker, head of development at the Football Association said: "The FA have worked closely over the past year with the University to conduct an initial investigation into futsal participation rates in England, and I have been very impressed with the quality of the study and the findings that have been produced."

Other findings include:

  • Futsal currently has 2,014 teams, seven per cent of the FA's plan for 30,000 small-sided teams in the UK by 2015
  • Majority of participants (87 per cent) are male
  • 80 per cent participated more often now than they have done before
  • Nearly half of participants take up futsal at University

Richard said: "The study provides a comprehensive account for the number of teams and participants involved in futsal. People are clearly drawn to the sport which shows that it has a recognisable structure and that its popularity is on the increase. A follow up study in 2015 should evidence further growth."

Futsal originated in South America. It has taken off in Sheffield thanks to a unique partnership between Sheffield FC Futsal, Sheffield and Hallamshire County FA and Sheffield Hallam University.

Sheffield FC Futsal, affiliated to the world's oldest football club, and the Sheffield and Hallamshire County FA are working with Sport Hallam and the Students' Union to develop and coach the university's futsal squad.

For press information: contact Laurie Harvey in the Sheffield Hallam University press office on 0114 225 2621 or email