Russia - November 24, 2018 09:00Laws of the game: 50 minutes games?Semen Andreev in talks with Futsal PlanetThere would be no need of introduction for Semen Andreev, one of the most important futsal founders and managers in Russia, former head coach of USSR and Russian national futsal teams. The Honorary President of Futsal Association of Russia (AMFR) talks with Futsal Planet about current problems of futsal development. Special focus on games length, which is 50 minutes in the Russian Superleague.

In Russian National futsal championship and cup matches since almost 10 years have been played with an extended duration, 25 minutes for each half. Why did you came to such "experiment"?

This experiment was given by a real need, we confirmed this to FIFA. First of all, the duration of flights for Russian futsal clubs or of any other type of transportation in Russia doesn’t have any analogs in the world. For example, it takes from 6 to 8 hours to get from Saint Petersburg to Novosibirsk, Krasnoyarsk, Yakutsk or Khabarovsk. And the duration of one futsal match, wich consists of 20 minutes each half is too short both for spectators who want to see the best futsal teams of the country and players who don’t "enjoy" enough physical activity. This matter became even more important when FIFA increased the number of players in the match list from 12 to 14. Just imagine how little playing time receives each player now! That’s the reason behind the idea to increase the duration of game up to 50 minutes and we were immediately supported by spectators, coaches and clubs. Full duration matches made futsal one of the most popular sport games in Russia.

How important do you think to introduce the Russian experience in the international stage?

Increasing the duration of men’s national team matches and clubs competitions matches up to 50 minutes is long overdue. Futsal, during more than 30 years of development, has changed a lot becoming an autonomous discipline from football. We see how the speed of this game, individual technique of players, team tactics have changed and improved. Today we have not the same futsal experienced during the 90s. Modern futsal is a full kind of sport with its history, players' training and preparation system, competition culture. But the "archaic" duration of matches, that has still being used since that old times is now making the development of futsal and the growth of its popularity among spectators slower.

In this case we are now behind all other playing kind of sports, it means, that we are losing the pace of development. The good thing is that a lot of national teams’ coaches and leading clubs’ coaches are now aware of this problem and support Russian point of view to increase the duration of futsal matches. That’s why today we strongly need decisive and thoughtful steps from FIFA in this matter. I’m sure these steps are not far away.

Your personal point of view: how to manage this change in other categories?

I suppose we should keep current duration of matches for women's and youth futsal – 20 minutes for each half. This change would just apply to men national teams and clubs challenges: 50 minutes in total with 10 minutes halftime break.

Do you feel optimistic about solving this problem?

Sure, I do. Our hopes are now connected with national teams’ coaches and objective approach to this question by FIFA, which always has been very progressive about futsal development. Otherwise it’s difficult to think about future progress of futsal as a sport discipline with Olympic perspectives. I believe that a long time Russian experiment, supported by FIFA, proved the necessity of this reform.

Let's change the focus now. How do you consider UEFA introduction in 2019 of women’s EURO (A teams) and U19 (boys) challenges?

No doubts. This decision is a significant step for all the futsal specialists. I’m sure it will cause a new impulse for the European futsal development

Which futsal directions do you consider to be most important for futsal federations?

There can’t be any progress in futsal in any country without school and university futsal. Also, it’s very important to pay attention to the development of national competitions, to the preparation of national teams. But if we think strategically, the most important for any national federation is the work with youngsters – pupils and students. This is the only way for futsal to gain an important position among other kind of sports. In Russia for more then 10 years we have been organizing allRussian projects: “Futsal to schools” and “Futsal to universities” supported by Russian government.

We’ve created a special department in Futsal Association of Russia to work with pupils and students, grassroots tournaments are being staging in regions which end with the big finals in Moscow. Today annually we have more than 1.5 million participants in these competitions. Thanks to that futsal is now one of the most popular tools for physical education in Russia. I think this job is a necessary way of futsal development for every country. Today pupils and students play futsal, tomorrow some of them will become players of national teams and clubs, taking part in prestigious international tournaments.

Note: all pictures posted in this report are courtesy AMFR - Russian Futsal Association

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