Wales - March 25, 2023 19:00FAW accused of 'lack of respect' over withdrawal of international futsal teamNo more futsal national teamsCourtesy: BBC Sport

Photo courtesy: Getty Images via BBC Sport

22 March 2023

Members of Wales' men's futsal team have accused the Football Association of Wales (FAW) of a "lack of respect".

The FAW has allegedly not consulted players about the team's withdrawal.

One player says he found out about the change by watching the World Cup qualifying draw and realising Wales were not in it.

The FAW, which is responsible for international teams and domestic futsal competitions in Wales, has been asked for comment.

When asked on social media if he would like to reinstate international teams, chief executive Noel Mooney, said: "My own view is we need to build a good domestic base and then go international again.

"Our current approach is to invest in our domestic futsal growth and build the base properly and then grow our international involvement."

Wales' futsal captain Chris Hugh described those comments as "disappointing".

"Futsal in Wales has been going on for years, it's not a high profile thing but the domestic league has been there and it was doing well with very committed teams part of it year on year," Hugh told BBC Radio Wales Breakfast.

"It was always there so they've always had the chance to expand on that, invest in it and put more time into it but I don't think there's ever been that true effort or funding to try and progress that.

"Looking at it from his comments I think it's a bit disappointing because now it's sort of fizzled out a bit because there hasn't been that effort or funding to push it on.

"So I feel, and a lot of my colleagues feel, that a top down approach of having an international team would be a better approach because it gives younger children something to aspire to achieve to join the sport and progress through the levels."

Players have now been told the team's status is on "hiatus" and speaking on the programme Hugh underlined the feelings of the players outlined in a letter sent by members of the Wales team to the FAW.

In the letter, seen by BBC Wales, the governing body is accused of "callously tossing aside" those who have invested time and money in representing the national futsal programme.

The letter also says the impact upon some players' mental health has been "detrimental".

One player, who does not want to be identified, said: "In 2021, the team was carrying on as usual, the pandemic's grip on sport had subsided a little bit but we were building up to the World Cup qualifiers in 2022.

"We were just carrying on as usual and then from absolutely nowhere, the World Cup draw was made, we were all sat watching it and the first time we hear about not being involved is by not seeing Wales in the draw.

"We knew that there were challenges around the pandemic, with budgets and funding, but to find out your team has been withdrawn from a huge competition, which everyone has got their hearts set on, I have never seen anything like it to be honest.

"I couldn't imagine any other walk of life where that's acceptable.

"Everyone was furious, frustrated and upset by what had happened and for a couple of months we didn't have any clarity."

Futsal is a form of indoor football played between two teams of five players at any one time. There are rolling substitutes and a smaller, harder ball than in traditional football is used.

Stars such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Neymar are thought to have developed their skills as youngsters playing the game in Portugal, Argentina and Brazil respectively.

"It has its merits as its own game. Internationally, it's huge in other countries across the world and it's growing," added the Wales player.

"The English national league has been televised for the last couple of years.

"Facilities have always been questioned around football in Wales, with the weather having a dramatic impact on grass pitches, so futsal provides an opportunity in the winter months for a game that develops players and enhances their technical ability and tactical knowledge.

"Fifa (world football's governing body) has entrusted the FAW to govern futsal in Wales and now Wales is probably one of a handful of nations in Europe that doesn't have a national futsal team for men or women."

Posted by Luca Ranocchiari -->
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