Against Modern Futsal

Bad enough that the American sports establishment trying to corporatize football at the expense of real fans.  Now the vultures are out to destroy futsal. 

And what's even worse?  They're getting help from European and South American clubs.

You can read the sad, sad story from Brad Townsend at the Dallas News website.  Artificially created futsal "franchises" will be placed according to market size in existing NBA and NFL cities.  Mark Cuban, Donnie Nelson and Brian Dick are the league's owners - note carefully, the league's owners.  This is another single-entity boondoggle foisted on us at the expense of real futsal. 

And, instead of clubs earning their way to the top, franchises can buy in for a million dollars.  Typical and predictable.

Note carefully that Cuban, Nelson and Dick have ZERO pro futsal experience.  We've once again turned over the sport to people who don't understand it, and who only want to make a quick buck.

But surely THIS single-entity closed monopoly wouldn't go against FIFA and change the rules, would they?  You bet they would.  Townsend reports that this so-called Professional Futsal League will have four quarters, instead of two halves.  There will also be TV time-outs.  And, of course, a shootout.  Because Americans love shootouts, and can't understand ties.

"We'll be the only league in the world with that (four-quarter) format," Nelson said. "Again, that's part of the NBA injection here."

That's not futsal.  That's sports entertainment.  Vince McMahon should buy a team.

He'll have the opportunity, by the way.  The league is closed at sixteen - as if a country of three hundred million can be served by only sixteen teams - but two of them will be in New York. 

Why do we keep permitting vulture capitalists to make the same mistakes that MLS, MLB, NBA, NHL and NFL have made for decades? In the misguided attempt to attract non-futsal fans, Cuban and his henchmen have alienated millions of futsal purists, who see this venture as the shabby moneygrab it is. 

This may be why teams like Barcelona, Boca Juniors, Benfica, and Corinthians are involved - if the only futsal Americans have is corporate and artificial, then America will never challenge Europe and South America's futsal dominance.  It's actually very sinister. 

Oh, sure, Barcelona will play in merit-based leagues at home, where it matters.  But franchising is just fine for we simple Americans.

They think we'll just be happy to have any futsal at all.  But Americans deserve real futsal.  Maybe empty seats and low ratings will convince the Powers That Be to accommodate us.

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Futsal! Because it's too cold out for soccer!

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No, seriously.  The big appeal is that the biggest soccer stars use futsal in training?  Great! When's the National Sit-Ups League start?

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Mr. Cuban, tear down these walls!  Futsal!

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Love indoor soccer, but also love the ball going out of bounds?  Your prayers have been answered! Futsal!

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Let's say this thing goes three years or so.  Are they on the Hall of Fame ballot?  Or do we get thirty years of people saying the great futsal players of our generation have been unfairly ignored?

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I should link you to two websites to learn more about the league and the sport.  Here's the PFL site.  And here's the site for the U.S. Futsal Federation

The eagle-eyed among you will notice that the one never mentions the other, and likewise.  As it happens, the big news in US Futsal is the regional championships this weekend.  Other pages on the site are not, shall we say, rapidly updated.  So it's possible that the USFF hasn't had a chance to tell its members the good news about this high-profile endeavor.

Although it's not a good sign that you read this so often on the USFF site: "U.S. Futsal, is the only futsal organization directly affiliated to U.S. Soccer and U.S. Youth Soccer!"

I have sent e-mails asking for clarification on whether the PFL is going to be that most rare and wonderful creature, the outlaw league.  Will its players be banned from the national teams?  Will we miss the Futsal World Cup?  (Which is being played later this year.  CONCACAF qualifying is ongoing, the US will play Canada in May.  Brazil or Spain have won every FWC, which is a FIFA tournament.  The US finished second in the 1992 Futsal World Cup, an achievement of which I was not previously cognizant.  Or if I was, I forgot.)

A Futsal War would also render moot any PFL participation in the Futsal Club World Cup.  Which doesn't exist - yet - although there are equivalents to the UEFA Champions League and Copa Libertadores. 

But, in theory, there could be tangible consequences.  There is an outside chance - again, assuming a dispute between the USFF and the PFL - that, since futsal is under FIFA domain, the players that Barcelona or Boca Juniors send to America for extra training will come home with the extra bonus of a lifetime ban from outdoor football.

But that would require bureaucratic pigheadedness and bungling on a truly cosmic scale.  Lionel Messi PROBABLY won't be sacrificing his career if and when he appears on behalf of Barcelona's PFL farm club in an exhibition match.

I will keep you all posted on this developing story.  If there is one.  Or unless I find a particularly shiny object.