Sporting Event of the Decade

FIFA Futsal World Cup comes to Lithuania

After two years of planning, the FIFA Futsal World Cup Championship (indoor soccer) begins in Vilnius this September. It is the biggest sports event held in Lithuania since the European Basketball Championship held there in 2011. It will mark the first FIFA tournament ever hosted by Lithuania and the third Futsal World Cup hosted in Europe, the others being the Netherlands in 1989 and Spain in 1996. The tournament was originally scheduled to be held from September 12 to October 4, 2020, but was postponed to this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The indoor version of the game was developed in 1930 in Uruguay, when a coach came up with rules for indoor games when  many outdoor practices were cancelled due to bad weather. However, the first world indoor soccer championship was only held 60 years later, in 1989, in the Netherlands.

A total of 24 teams qualify for the final tournament, in addition to Lithuania which qualifies automatically as host; 23 other teams qualify from six separate continental competitions. 

Ivan Pasquariello

The championship will be broadcast in 137 countries, said media operations manager Ivan Pasquariello. The biggest challenge for organizers is overcoming COVID restrictions, with the safety of all visitors and participants being their first priority. Fans will have to present proof of vaccination in order to attend. Pasquariello said that the Lithuanian arenas and the digital infrastructure is in very good shape, making the job much easier for everyone involved.

New at this year’s championship will be the use of the video assistant referee (VAR) system, allowing judges to view videos and enter decisions during the games. This technology has been used elsewhere since 2018.

Vilnius “Avia Solutions Group“ arena CEO, former Lithuanian foreign minister and diplomat Vygaudas Ušackas noted that Lithuania has much to be proud of and will hosting the championship will benefit the country in various ways.

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