The FIFA Futsal World Cup in Lithuania commenced a week ago. The competition will run until October 3rd 2021.
FIFA's Futsal World Cup started earlier this week. The ninth international championship of the indoor version of men's association football is taking place in Lithuania. Twenty-four teams including defending champions Argentina are currently competing in the group stage:
Here's how the FIFA Futsal World Cup 2021 draw shaped up! 🏆— Football Queensland (@FootballQLD) June 2, 2021
Hosts Lithuania will take on Venezuela in the tournament opener on September 12th.
Read more: https://t.co/9hRB87nma1#ThisIsFutsal pic.twitter.com/EUcCk0agSP
At present Groups A & B have concluded play with Kazakhstan, Venezuela, the Russian national Futsal team and Uzbekistan having qualified for the knockout rounds. Costa Rica and Guatemala may also progress to the Round of 16 depending on results from the remaining matches in groups C-F which conclude mid-week.
Group C's Portugal and Group F's Argentina and IR Iran, who are all undefeated, have also qualified with one game in hand. Five times winners Brazil as well as Spain have also won their two first group stage matches. They will need to wait until the results of their third game to confirm their place in the knockout stages.
The full results from the group stage so far can be found using this link.
At present the golden boot is held by Brazil's Ferrao, who has 6 goals, with Argentina's Alan Brandi and Japan's Arthur Oliveira trailing close behind with 5 and 4 goals scored respectively. The goal of the tournament so far was courtesy of Russia's Robinho:
Russia's own Robinho showed he has all the silky skills of his Brazillian namesake as Russia defeated Egypt at the FIFA Futsal World Cup— SBS Sport (@SBSSport) September 16, 2021
Watch the semi-finals and final LIVE, FREE and in HD on @SBS and @SBSOnDemand from September 30-October 4! pic.twitter.com/h2RddN58PK
Australia did not have a chance to qualify for this year's tournament. The qualification process originally started in 2018 with the AFC Futsal Championship qualification. However, the Futsalroos' funding cut by the FA led to their withdrawal from the competition.
The Futsalroos had previously taken part in the FIFA Futsal World Cup on seven occasions, with the 2008 Brazil FIFA Futsal World Cup being the only other competition for which they had not qualified. Their best ever showing was in 1989 when they finished 11th.
The funding cut was described at the time as a "necessary short-term measure" by the Football Federation Australia. The Futsalroos have since returned to action, playing a series of friendlies in 2019 and taking part in the 2019 AFF Futsal Championship.
Moreover, Football Australia confirmed earlier this month the return of the National Futsal Championship in 2022. Queensland is set to host the 2022 championship with Victoria holding the 2023 games.
The sport has been known to help with the development of a number of fine players, including former Futsalroo and current Socceroo and Celtic FC attacker Tom Rogic. According to the FA's most recent National Participation Report, Futsal has seen a 36% growth in participation since 2018.
While Australia are not competing in this World Cup, the nation is being represented. Referee Ryan Shepheard was selected as one of eight Asian Football Confederation Futsal referees. Shepheard has been a FIFA Futsal referee since 2009. He has also refereed 32 A-League matches between 2009 and 2012.
Fans who would like to see the remainder of the competition can watch highlights of the early rounds on SBS Sports and SPS On Demand. The semi-finals and final will be broadcast free on SBS and simultaneously streamed on SBS On Demand.