DOHA, Out of the 14 sports that will be featuring at the inaugural edition of the ANOC World Beach Games Qatar 2019 from October 12 to 16, soccer, the king of sports, promises to be one of the major attractions at the Katara Beach in Doha.
In all, a total of 24 male and female teams, will be competing for fame and glory at the Games. The men's event will witness the participation of 192 athletes from 16 nations while 80 players from eight nations will be involved in the women's event.
At the draw ceremony held on August 27, four men's groups were drawn with Brazil, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates and Morocco in Group A while Italy, Spain, Mexico and Solomon Islands make up Group B. Iran, Paraguay, Senegal and Ukraine are in Group C and Russia, Japan, Uruguay and El Salvador will play in Group D. In the women's event, Spain, Brazil, Cape Verde and Mexico contest Group A, while Britain, Russia, the US and Paraguay are in Group B.
According to the regulations of the tournament, the top two teams from each group will go into the quarter-finals in the men's event while the top two from each group goes into semis for women. They then compete for medals according to the system of the playoffs.
Historically, the first official beach soccer tournament was created in Rio de Janeiro in 1950 to unite neighbourhood small tourneys that has been played since 1940.
The surge in popularity, brought about through the participation of famous players including Eric Cantona, legendary Spanish strikers Michel and Julio Salinas and Brazilian stars such as Romario, JA�nior and Zico, has helped to expand television coverage to large audiences in over 170 countries worldwide since its inauguration.
FIFA became the global governing body of the sport in 2005 and the first FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup was held in the same year at the Copacabana Beach, its 'spiritual home', in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil with France defeating Portugal 1-0 in a penalty shootout, following a 3-3 draw after extra-time, to emerge champions.
As per the game's rule, a match is played by two teams, each consisting of not more than five players, one of whom is the goalkeeper and a match lasts a total of 36 minutes divided into three equal periods of 12 minutes, unless otherwise mutually agreed between the referee and the two teams. Unlike conventional soccer, up to a maximum of seven substitutes may be used in any match played in an official competition organised under the auspices of FIFA, the confederations or the member associations.
The field of play is divided into two halves by an imaginary halfway line marked by two red flags located outside the pitch and the imaginary central point of this imaginary line is the exact position for the kick-off and certain free kicks. The pitch must be a minimum of 35m (37m max) in length and minimum of 26m (28m max) in width. The penalty area is the area on the pitch between the goal line and an imaginary parallel line at 9m from the goal line and marked by two yellow flags placed next to each touch line outside the pitch.
The ball is spherical and made of leather or another suitable material and has a circumference of not less than 68cm and not more than 70cm. It weighs no more than 440g and no less than 400g at the start of the match and has a pressure of between 0.4 and 0.6 atmospheres at sea level. Fouls in beach soccer are penalised with a free kick or a penalty kick like its conventional counterpart.
Free kicks are awarded for various fouls. All free kicks are direct free kicks which has to be taken by the player who was fouled, unless awarded for deliberate handling. The laws specify that all players apart from the opposing goalkeeper must clear a zone between the kicker and the goal. Because of this and the small playing area, all free kicks represent a good opportunity to score. Penalties are awarded for fouls within the penalty area.
The beach soccer event of the competition kicks off on October 11 and will last for six days with the finals played on October 16. More than 1,300 athletes from around 90 countries are expected at the ANOC World Beach Games Qatar 2019 with action split between the Katara, Aspire and Al Gharafa beach venues in Doha.
Source: Qatar Olympic Committee