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In Almaty, Kazakhstan history occurred as the first ever UEFA Futsal Champions League Final Four kicked off on Friday. The weekend event featured the semi-finals, third place play-off and the final. The entertainment on display attracted the largest attendance for a semi-final when 12,090 bought tickets to watch Barca v AFC Kairat.
Competing at the final stage of the UEFA Futsal Champions League formerly known as the UEFA Futsal Cup was Sporting Club de Portugal v Inter Movistar and FC Barcelona Lassa v AFC Kairat.
18 years have passed since the first preliminary rounds of this prestige competition kicked off and of the last 17 finals, Spain has been represented 14 times. However, this year would see FC Barcelona and Inter Movistar from the biggest futsal league in the world, the Liga Nacional de Futbol Sala having to settle for a third and fourth place. Sporting Clube de Portugal and AFC Kairat progressed to the finals with 5-3 and 2-5 victories.
The final was a splendid spectacle by UEFA who deserves applauds for the progress they are making to build futsal’s profile and presentation in Europe along with encouraging the growth and development of the sport among its association. Sporting de Portugal took to the court with a clear purpose and AFC Kairat did everything they could to prevent it, right up until the last seconds, but when the whistle below, Sporting had made history for the competition and for their club. The weekend’s final victory was a first for the club who have competed in the competition since it kicked off in 2001 and lost the last two finals to Inter Movistar, however before the matches, speaking with UEFA Sporting Coach Nuno Dias said,
Ok, Sporting have lost the last two finals to Inter Movistar but Nuno Dias pointed out, “For me, this is the first time these two teams will meet because a lot has changed since the last time we met so you cannot use the previous failures as a reference.”
After 18 years, Sporting lifted the first ever UEFA Futsal Champions League trophy high above their heads and their traveling fans and fans at home who watched from their club stadium stands cheered with joy. On 5 occasions, Sporting Clube de Portugal have reached the final four, the first time was in 2011 (Runners-up), 2012 (Fourth place), 2015 (Third place) and in 2017 and 18 (Runners-up)
Since the weekend, Futsal Focus has received a number of inquiries from African countries asking if CAF has a competition for futsal which it currently doesn’t. Hopefully, this event and the fact that Africa is hosting the Youth Olympics in Senegal in 4 years where futsal has replaced football at the competition will encourage CAF to do so and start to support the development of futsal.
Highlights of the UEFA Futsal Champions League Final are below:
Pictures from UEFA Futsal Twitter
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