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TOPIC: Futsal Advice

Futsal Advice 2 years 2 months ago #34268

So I've been recruited to referee an unaffiliated futsal league this winter. I'm super happy because I live in Wisconsin, so the soccer off-season is more than six months long; by February, I'm usually starting to go insane!

I've never reffed futsal, but I have seen it played quite a lot (used to do security for a different unaffiliated league). I know the rules quite well, but I've never taken the futsal certification course (I met Keith Tozer once, he encouraged me to find a certification course, but seem to be far and few between around here).

Does anyone else ref futsal? Do you have any advice for me? Thanks!
Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.
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Futsal Advice 2 years 2 months ago #34270

  • Crwys Harris
  • Crwys Harris's Avatar
If you are doing it by yourself stay to one side so that you are out if the way.
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Futsal Advice 2 years 2 months ago #34284

Crwys Harris wrote:
If you are doing it by yourself stay to one side so that you are out if the way.

Second that. It's like lazy indoor soccer. Referee will rarely even go on the court.
I'd also say that you need to be consistent and deliberate when refereeing young kids and they aren't getting the ball in play during restarts in time. Counting loudly and I would say slower than I've seen others would be good. Counting too fast... just freaks the kids out or makes them freeze.
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Futsal Advice 2 years 2 months ago #34300

Bryan,

I'm working on getting myself into the upcoming PFL (professionalfutsal.com), I've been to a few of their clinics. There are a LOT of things to learn about Futsal! These will come naturally to you with experience, but let me share some of the things I've learned with you.

Firstly, it is not football. The play is different, the Laws are different, the pace is different. Outdoors, you can run up to an opponent and pass a through-ball to yourself to get by him. It's a reasonable play, and you see it done quite a bit. On a Futsal pitch, there isn't enough space to do that. By the time you've caught up to the ball, it's gone over the goal line. Players advance the ball by playing like FC Barcelona--pass and move, pass and move. Really good teams look almost like the Harlem Globetrotters--or really any basketball team. They pass around what might be a three-point line, and when an opening appears, a shot occurs.

Piggybacking on that, if an attack is repelled, quick counter-attacks are numerous in a game. There is no offside, so as soon as a pivo (Futsal-ese for forward or striker) sees an attack broken up, he's off to the races to see if he can't get a quick through pass. In Futsal, numerical advantages are the winning team's watchwords, given that the players are reasonably close in skill.

Also, your mechanics are different. You said you spoke with Keith Tozer. I have too, he's a really great guy. He briefed the referees at both of the national events I've been to (National ID Camp, PFL Combine Orlando), and he consistently reinforced that Futsal pretty much has a chance to start fresh, while soccer has a lot of tradition that we have to keep in balance. He said that now is the time that we can teach kids how to play the game. In conjunction with that, Ed Marco, our own FIFA Futsal Instructor, gave us lots of good stuff regarding fouls, misconduct, and teamwork. Between the two of them, a few things were hit hard.

1. Futsal is a fast game. Enjoyment comes from it being fast. Get the ball back into play as quickly as possible.

For us as referees, this means a couple of things. Keep your four-second count honest. Don't cheat it long just because you have younger players. This is kind of like the trifling throw-in stuff that you call a hundred times in a nine-year old game but might let go in an older game. When you call a foul, unless you smell retaliation brewing, there's no reason to enter the pitch. You can, from the touchline, demonstrate to players where the ball should be placed, if you need to specify it. (Remember, there's a four second count here, too, just not signalled.) Last, if a player is taking his sweet time getting the ball over to the restart location, you can, once he reasonably is "ready to restart," or pretty close, hit the whistle quickly and start your count. After a couple of turnovers, they'll get the picture.

2. Futsal is a fast game, and enjoyment comes from it being fast!

Earlier I spoke about counter-attacks, and how they are very prevalent. All it takes is a tiny hold from a fixo (defender) on a pivo to keep him from turning the corner and having a credible attack. Tactical fouls are a very real possibility even at a young level. Furthermore, delaying the restart of play by standing over a free kick, we are reminded, is a cautionABLE offence, and, in Futsal, has a much higher effect. Rarely does a quick free kick in football result in one or two touches to goal. In Futsal, any quick free kick in the attacking half of play is a real chance. Referees are reminded to be proactive in managing defenders who insist on slowing down an attack unfairly.

3. Futsal has "that funky six foul rule." Use it.

At the events I went to (one of which featured the Malaysian National Team, I think), I was shocked at how quickly Futsal players modified their behavior once they hit their fifth accumulated foul for the half. Every tackle was done, as it were, on tiptoes. Teammates were shouting, "no foul, no foul" at every challenge. The referees get five fouls per team per half with which we can manage player behavior. That's sometimes nice, because five isn't too many--if a player persistently infringes, say, three fouls in five minutes, and blows half of his team's fouls for that period. You almost don't even need the caution for PI, because the accumulation of fouls is enough. However, it can be a double-edged sword if you set your bar for "foul/no foul" wrong. In an otherwise nothing game, if you set your bar too low, you can end up with both teams on their sixth+ foul and have a nightmare, or a game that's an absolute brawl with only one foul each. Football referees have the advantage of not having to count the fouls to determine how to manage play.

4. (This one was really Ed, not Keith.) There are two referees and two assistant referees, and you are a team. If you don't have ARs, then the other referee is your best friend.

One of the toughest things for new Futsal referees to get used to is the positioning. There are mandatory positions for given situations. On a kick-in, the referee on the ball side is positioned between the kicker and his own goal, while the other referee is downfield. On a corner, the far-side referee (from the ball) is on the goal line while the other referee is, oh, somewhere around the top of the penalty area, depending on player position. Notoriously missing from the mandatory positions is referee positioning during active play. Referees need to be able to read play to see when they need to move upfield or downfield. In addition to that, you need to be able to read your partner. There are two positional switches that referees make--the dynamic switch and the touchline exchange.

A dynamic switch usually occurs when the play goes to an empty (not occupied by a referee) corner of the pitch. I usually envision it when I'm trail as the attack quickly moving diagonally toward the corner that I'm away from. In this situation, depending on the pre-game conference, play, and your comfort with each other, the referees make eye contact and the trail referee accelerates to remain close to play while the lead referee slows down, even backing up, to assume the trail position. Ed said that this is something that many FIFA Instructors try to get their referees to do, but often even some FIFA referees (Ed showed us clips) don't have the teamwork or recognition or SOMETHING, whatever it is, to make that quick switch.

A touchline exchange occurs when a referee needs to get out of hot water. This almost always occurs when the bench side referee, usually R1, issues a caution or sending-off. Now, he's gotta run the rest of the half in front of a bench who hates him? Why add gas to a fire? While the referee is reporting the card to the third referee and timekeeper (collectively, the table or the ARs), the second referee can set the free kick, say "wait for the whistle," set the wall, and come over to the bench side touchline. Now, we're ready to restart play. Both referees remain busy, getting play restarted more quickly, and R1 gets to go to the other touchline. If the manager starts getting in R2's ear about the card, he can just give a "coach, that was his call," and there's not really an argument.

So, what advice would I give? Watch as much professional or international Futsal as you can. Incorporate what those referees do at your grassroots level. It might sound corny or hokey, but if Futsal is to grow in North America, we want to make sure that we're building pro teams from well-trained youth players, not trying to build an organization around pro teams. Use your management to teach the players. Use your knowledge to teach the coaches. Futsal is a small community, and it is the community of Futsal, not the community of players and coaches and referees. We are one game.

Please contact me if you have any questions. This is a huge passion of mine (as you can probably tell) and I want to be sure that the instruction coming down from the top gets implemented at all levels.

(Also, re: David Bartel--the Futsal LOTG strictly say that the referee does not give an audible count, only that it is visible. And four seconds. Bob Tibbo, Canada's FIFA Futsal Instructor, clocked me. My left hand is 3.96, and my right is 4.04. Get your times to four seconds. It's really important for this game.)

Cheers.
State Referee (6) MO
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Futsal Advice 2 years 2 months ago #34420

Stephen Hoffmeister wrote:
A dynamic switch usually occurs when the play goes to an empty (not occupied by a referee) corner of the pitch. I usually envision it when I'm trail as the attack quickly moving diagonally toward the corner that I'm away from. In this situation, depending on the pre-game conference, play, and your comfort with each other, the referees make eye contact and the trail referee accelerates to remain close to play while the lead referee slows down, even backing up, to assume the trail position. Ed said that this is something that many FIFA Instructors try to get their referees to do, but often even some FIFA referees (Ed showed us clips) don't have the teamwork or recognition or SOMETHING, whatever it is, to make that quick switch.
When working as a team, this is one of the toughest skills to get -- silent communication with the rest of your team (whether futsal or soccer). The best advice here? Pretend that you're an AR in terms of where you look: As an AR, you watch the play, scan to the second last defender, and "take a snapshot" of the position. Do the same, but with the other referee. Watch the play, scan over to the other referee constantly. Talk about some subtle pre-game hand signals to help you out with that communication (ie, when to go, when to stay).

Stephen Hoffmeister wrote:
the Futsal LOTG strictly say that the referee does not give an audible count, only that it is visible. And four seconds. Bob Tibbo, Canada's FIFA Futsal Instructor, clocked me. My left hand is 3.96, and my right is 4.04. Get your times to four seconds. It's really important for this game.)
When I took my first course from Bob, he told us to count "steamboats" silently as we did our visible count in order to "tune" our timing.
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