Summary of the Rules of Engagement for Futsal.

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By Jimmy Patrick Alunyo

After dissecting the history, naming and origins of the Futsal competition yesterday in our episode of distinguishing between Football and Futsal. Today let’s take a look at the rules governing this sport in detail, as this will give you an idea of what to look for while you watch this entertaining sport on either TV or in person on the court.

Ball Size

If you observe clearly, you might have seen that the size of the futsal ball is much smaller than the normal football ball. That is because the ideal size of futsal ball is size 4, circumference 62–64 cm (24–25 in), and the recommended futsal ball should weigh 390-490 grams.


Unlike football of course, futsal is played for only 40 minutes and it has two periods of 20 minutes with time stopping at every dead ball. Between the two periods there is a break of 15 minutes. Each team may use one time-out per half, which lasts one minute. Even though some leagues and tournaments use 25 minute periods with running time, ideally it is only supposed to last for 40 minutes.

Number of players

There are five players for each team in the field, one of them as goalkeeper, and a maximum number of 12 players that can be used each match. Substitutions are unlimited and on-the-fly.


All direct free kicks count as accumulated fouls. A direct free kick is awarded for kicking, tripping, charging, jumping, pushing, striking, tackling, holding, spitting, and deliberate handling. Indirect free kicks, such as playing dangerously and impeding, do not count as accumulated fouls. A team is warned by the referee when they commit five accumulated fouls in a half.


A caution can be shown for unsporting behavior, dissent, failure to respect the distance on a restart, excessive delay of a restart, persistent infringement, or incorrectly entering/leaving the field of play. A player or substitute can be sent off for serious foul play, violent conduct, spitting, illegally denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity, abusive language, and receiving a second caution. Sent-off players are ejected from the game and their team must play short for two minutes or until the other team scores a goal.

Free kicks

The free kick is always taken from the spot of the infringement or on the line of the penalty area nearest the infringement (indirect only). All opponents must be at least 5 m (16 ft) away from the ball. The kick must be taken within four seconds or an indirect kick is awarded to the other team.

Kick from the second penalty mark

Awarded when a team commits 6 or more accumulated fouls in a half. Second penalty mark is 10 m (33 ft) from the goal, opponents must be behind the ball, and the goalkeeper must be at least 5 m (16 ft.) away.

Penalty kick

The penalty kick is always taken 6 m (20 ft) from the center of the goal for fouls inside the 6 m (20 ft) goal keeper’s area.


When in possession of the ball, the goalkeeper has 4 seconds to get rid of the ball. If the ball is kept too long, the referee will give an indirect kick to the other team. The goalkeeper may play freely when in the opponent’s half.

Goalkeeper pass-back restriction

In a Futsal Match, once the goalkeeper has released the ball either by kicking or throwing, the goalkeeper may not touch it again until the ball goes out of play or is touched by an opponent. The sanction for violation is an indirect free kick. The goalkeeper may receive the ball freely when on the opponent’s half.


A kick-in is used instead of a throw-in. The player must place the ball on the touchline or outside but not more than 25 cm (9.8 in) from the place the ball went out of play. The ball must be stationary and the kick-in must be taken within 4 seconds from the time the player is ready. During kick-in, opponents must stand at least 5 m (16 ft) from the ball. If four seconds elapses or an illegal kick is taken, the referee will award a kick-in to the other team. It is not allowed to score directly from a kick-in, and the goal is valid only if someone else touches the ball before it enters the goal, interesting isn’t it?

Goal clearance

A goal clearance is used instead of a goal kick. The goalkeeper must throw the ball with their hands and it must leave the penalty area within four seconds. If goal clearance is taken illegally the goalkeeper may retry, but the referee will not reset the count. If four seconds elapses, the other team gets an indirect kick on the penalty area line.

Corner kick

The ball must be placed inside the arc nearest to the point where the ball crossed the goal line and the opponent must stand on field at least 5 m (16 ft) from the corner arch until the ball is in play. The corner kick must be taken within 4 seconds of being ready or else a goal clearance will be awarded to the other team. The ball is in play when it is kicked and moves.


For international matches, there must be two referees: one (first referee) is positioned on the touchline near the timekeeper table and communicates with the timekeeper, while the other (second referee) is on the opposite side of the field. At the timekeeper table there is a timekeeper and a third referee, who controls the teams’ benches. In minor events, the third referees and the timekeeper are not used.

Thank you for staying with us today and we look forward to giving you the results of next weekend futsal results that started yesterday at Old Kampala ground in Kampala.

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