Futsal vs. Soccer: What’s The Difference?

Our team offers classes, training camps, and other programs for both futsal and soccer. While you may be familiar with the latter, the former may cause you to raise an eyebrow. What is futsal, and how is it different than soccer? Is one more difficult than the other? Are there any overlapping rules? Today, we’ll compare and contrast the two. But first, a bit of background:

A Brief History of Futsal

The futsal name originates from the Spanish and Portuguese variations of fútbol sala — which translates to “hall football”. Many commentators agree that it originated in Uruguay in 1930 and quickly spread through South America as a ball sport that can be played all year round because it uses indoor spaces such as gymnasiums. Today, there are leagues throughout the world and international competitions — much like soccer.


Futsal is played with five players, one of whom is the goalkeeper. The teams wear indoor soccer shoes and kits similar to those used in outdoor soccer, with jerseys, shorts, and shin pads. Up to 9 substitutions can be fielded, and there is no limit on the number of substitutions that can be made during a game. In soccer, there are 11 players but only 3 substitutions can be made.

Pitch and Ball

As futsal has been developed to be played indoors on a hard surface, the ball itself is different from a soccer ball. Smaller, heavier, and with less bounce, a futsal ball tests the agility and footwork of the players as it is not designed to be controlled with the head or chest. The pitch itself is sized similarly to a basketball court, as that is usually the surface layout of the futsal location.


Each playing period is 20 minutes. The clock stops at any dead ball, which means that there is no added time at each half. Each team can request one time out per half, which lasts up to a minute.

In futsal, there is no offside rule, which means that players can get much closer to the goal during play. Goalkeepers must perform a ‘goal clearance’ rather than a goal kick; they must throw the ball out of the area, and have 4 seconds to release it.

The rules of play are broadly the same in soccer and in futsal. If a player has committed a foul or an infringement, they will receive a caution card. Players can be sent off for serious conduct violations, violence, or dangerous play. If a player is sent off in soccer, they must leave the game and cannot be replaced. However, in futsal, a sent-off player can be substituted after two minutes or when the opposing team scores a goal. Cumulative fouls (more than five in one half) will allow the opposing team to have a penalty.

Futsal and Soccer Programs with Total Soccer

Our professional coaching team offers classes in both futsal and soccer so players can train all year round. To find out more about our classes or online training, reach out to the team at Total Soccer today!