Sun, sea and sand – but no sign of lazing around: There have been kick-abouts on beaches for years and, since 2005, even in the form of a World Cup. Around ten years ago, the best beach soccer players in the world gathered under the palm trees on the Copacabana for the first time in order to prove their skills on sand. Since then, the sport has continuously grown in popularity: In 2015, Portugal became world champions ahead of Tahiti, Russia and Italy. Countries such as Switzerland, Iran and Senegal also participated. Ever since it has been increasingly shown that kick-abouts are no longer just restricted to classic sandy beaches, but are also played on man-made pitches in a variety of big cities, under the sun in Jamaica or by the sea in Japan – beach soccer is on a victory march around the world. If this has given you the taste for it and you can hardly wait to swap your football kit for loose beach clothing and to dive into the fascinating world of beach soccer with your mates, then we will answer your most burning questions here: where is it actually played? What are the differences to conventional football? And how can you maximise your abilities? We explain everything to do with this trending sport, so that nothing will stand in your way and you will be able to show what you're capable of. Since there have been official Beach Soccer World Cups, FIFA has accepted the sport – and defined a uniform set of rules. In many ways they differ a great deal from the classic football rules.
1. Match time and result
A match is played in three thirds of 12 minutes each, with a three-minute break in between each third. The clock is stopped for stoppages, there is no time added on. Nor are there draws; if the score is tied, three minutes of extra time are played. After this there is a penalty shoot-out, which are taken 9 metres from the goal, rather than the traditional 11. However, the winners receive only two points instead of the usual three.
2. Substitutions and fouls
There is no limit to the number of substitutions, but the game is not stopped for them. Substitutions can only take place in the substitution zone. If you are sent off (either directly or after two cautions) your team has to play with one player less for two minutes. There are no walls for free kicks, the free kick has to be taken by the fouled player – except, of course, if they are injured. For really bad fouls you can receive a red card, which means the end of the game for you.
3. The goalkeeper
The goalkeeper can hold the ball in his hands, but cannot be passed to twice by the same player without the ball being touched by an opposition player. This is intended to help keep the tempo of the game up. The goalkeeper also has to bring the ball back into the game within five seconds. Set pieces also have to be carried out within this time period.
Kick-off takes place at an imaginary point, which is, of course, in the middle of the pitch. Have you got a really hard shot? That won't help you much at kick-off as a goal scored directly from the kick-off spot doesn't count.
5. Pitch size
Be it a beach volleyball court at home, a sandy beach on holiday or in a big sand pit: you can play anywhere; there are no limits to your imagination. However, for professional events there are regulations set by FIFA: according to them, the pitch has to be between 35 and 37 metres long and between 26 and 28 metres wide. As you can see, there are quite a few differences to a kick-about on grass. But, thanks to our guide, you are now definitely well-prepared and there is nothing stopping you from having fun on the sand.