On the 31st of May, I travelled to St George’s Park in Burton (England’s national training base for football) on behalf of the FA to report on the most significant English futsal games of the season in the Futsal League Grand Finals. Participating on the day were Baku United, Helvecia, Loughborough and Manchester Futsal Club. It was an entertaining afternoon with goals galore as Baku triumphed for the second consecutive season and remained England’s futsal champions.
Below is a gallery of some of the photos I captured throughout the semi-finals, final and third-placed play-off. Admittedly it’s not like me to dabble in the realm of photography but since I have a fairly professional camera at my disposal, I decided to give it a go. Any feedback is appreciated since sports photography is a lot trickier than I anticipated.
In my first instalment of the #ThrowbackThursday series, I have decided to cover one of the most exciting games of futsal I’ve seen so far this decade (note: I didn’t actually watch this live but there was a full re-run of the match available on Youtube which has since been removed). Futsal is naturally much more exhilarating than football; the fast paced movement, decision-making and showboating is admirable in the 5-a-side game and all of these qualities are very much on-show in this particular match. But enough of me being nostalgic. Here is my match report for the 2012 World Futsal Cup Final, played in Thailand.
Brazil secured their fifth World Cup title following a 3-2 victory over Spain and brought an end to their 109 game unbeaten run after extra time.
A late strike in the 50th minute from Neto was the difference between the two world futsal giants as the South American’s defended the title they had won in their home country four years ago.
The match proved to be a very evenly contested affair with both side’s tactical strategies working to full effect. The intense playing style of Venancio Lopez’s side against the more stylish football deployed by Marcos Serato was testament to the biggest match in world futsal.
In the opening stages, Brazil seemed to be lacking the confidence that had seen them score 42 goals throughout the tournament as Spain maintained intense pressure. The first chance of the match fell to the eight-time European Champions, a quick passing move between Ortiz and Sergio Lozano opened up space allowing the number nine to strike, but it was well blocked on the line by Brazil captain Vinicius.
With the first half being dominated by the Spanish but with a lack of end product, Marcos Sorato called a time out and his side immediately readjusted. Ari was the main orchestrator in the upheaval of Brazilian tempo, and his flurry of shots towards the end of the half signalled new attacking intent by the reigning World champions.
The second period saw the introduction of Falcao for Brazil, who announced his arrival in the early seconds by attempting an audacious lob from the halfway line, which went just over the bar. But an attack five minutes later would prove to be more successful. A swiftly taken corner by Brazil’s top scorer Fernandinho found Neto who rifled a left foot strike past the helpless Juanjo in goal.
Spain responded quickly however, and within six minutes they had scored twice in quick succession to secure the lead. A fearsome shot from Miguelin forced Tiago to parry, but Torras was quickest to react to the rebound as he slotted past the helpless keeper. The Brazilian shot stopper was at fault just under a minute later, Aicardo’s optimistic attempt to beat the goalkeeper at the near post proved successful as Tiago failed to adjust his feet correctly, with the ball consequently bouncing off his boot and into the net.
The World Cup seemed destined for European soil with three minutes to go, Torras nearly scored his second of the match when his shot hit the crossbar, but the perseverance of the current world champions proved superior to Spain’s aggressive closing down strategy in the match’s dying embers. With Serato choosing to fly the keeper, Brazil managed to construct a 17 pass sequence which ended with a long-range Falcao effort finding the top corner.
Chances were at a premium during the extra time period and the final seemed destined to host a penalty shootout for the third tournament in a row but for Neto’s eventual winner. The number 11 flicked the ball over Fernandao’s leg before taking a few strides and planting the ball in the bottom right corner to send a sea of yellow of green into jubilation.
Spain 2-3 (a.e.t) Brazil (HT: 0-0)
Spain goalscorers: Torres 30′ & Aicardo 31′
Brazil goalscorers: Neto 25′, 50′ & Falcao 37′
1. CRISTIAN (GK)
9. Sergio LOZANO
13. RAFA (GK)
1 GUITTA (GK)
3 FRANKLIN (GK)
There was a time when the beautiful game was the sport of the working class people. The public would work their mundane, manual labour jobs from Monday to Friday and treat themselves to watching an affordable game of football on the weekend.
As sad as it is to say, times have changed and financial matters have been put before the enjoyment of supporters. Ticket costs have reached a disgusting high, pricing out a large number of fans who have to be content with watching their chosen game on the TV or illegally via a free live stream.
It is clear that football has evolved from recreational entertainment into a business. Clubs are intent on sucking their die-hard supporters dry to watch 22 individuals kick a ball around for an hour and a half. The protests of Manchester City and Liverpool fans during their February 2013 encounter is proof of this. A jointly-held banner displaying the slogan ‘”£nough is £nough’ is an emotive message to those at their respective team’s hierarchy. Will they listen? Probably not, why should they?
The question now is, can the working class afford to still be followers of the world’s most popular sport? At the way inflation is going, the answer is no. According to this writer’s research into ten London football teams using sources from the BBC and official club websites, the average price of a league ticket in English football is £41.90, which is the equivalent of paying 47p per minute. Some fans would be content about splashing the required amount of cash to watch top quality players, but the fact is that only a small minority of football across England can be considered world class. Paying £23 to watch Brentford at home is not most supporter’s idea of value for money.
Ticket prices are not the only essentials that are on the up financially. Merchandise is crucial to the football fanatic’s day out and everyday life. Last season, QPR fans would have to pay £60.99 to have a half time pie and be decked out in the latest kit and scarf, on top of the £40 cost for a ticket. You’d think that empty pockets would be less common in the lower leagues, but expenditure is still rather high. Followers of Championship side Millwall would have to pay £53.98 for the same day out, including the £28 ticket.
The most expensive ticket in the country belongs to Arsenal at a whopping £127, whilst the cheapest in the sample was fellow North Londoners Barnet at a somewhat more reasonable £14. The question football fans must be asking themselves is the football at the Emirates £113 better than games played at Underhill. For a typical working man, £127 is going to be a significant dent in the monthly wage, and prices like those would probably be considered criminal by many.
The overpricing doesn’t stop there. Out of all the London teams in the sample, not one of them charge under £3.00 for a pie, costing significantly more than the same refreshment at your local supermarket. The priciest pies belong to White Hart Lane who charge £3.70 for their pre-match delicacy. One most assume that the most premium of horses are involved in the ingredients.
Following the recent reports of match fixing combined with the current economic downturn, it may come across some chairmen’s minds that fans might actually start abandoning and boycotting matches over these issues. Therefore, in order to restore some dignity to this already corrupt sport, lower prices from the official club store to the ticket office would seem like a plausible idea.
Whether those at the top of the football pyramid will see it in this light remains to be seen.