What: Beach soccer has grown internationally by more than 60% in the past decade, with outreach to CONCACAF and CONMEBOL to increase the number of events in the region.
Why it matters: As it continues its push into the U.S. and Latin America, Beach Soccer Worldwide executive Joan Cusco believes the sport can tap into the Hispanic fan base’s support for all things soccer.
While beach volleyball, morphed from the indoor version of the American-invented game, traces its “organized” history back to the post-World War II era—even gaining Olympic status in 1993 for its first inclusion in the Atlanta Games in 1996—beach soccer’s origins are a bit more hazy. While the game has been played casually for decades, under whatever rules may have applied at the time and place, it wasn’t until 1993 that Beach Soccer Worldwide (@BeachSoccer_WW) formed, unifying the rules and hosting its first official event that July.
Flash forward 25 years later, and the sport is flourishing. A recent agreement with mycujoo is expanding its broadcast footprint exponentially, with more than 1500 webcasts planned in the next three years. According to BSWW, there are 139 national associations, with 77 having joined in the last decade, an increase of more than 60%. That growth has been even more impressive on the women’s side, as BSWW will hold four international events with 35 teams, up from zero just three year ago.
…[T]he sport has its roots in Brazil, as everybody reckons, and the whole Latin America area is a place where the passion for beach soccer is strongly felt.
BSWW, recognized by FIFA (@FIFAcom ) as the major entity behind the creation and growth of the beach game, is based in Barcelona and is responsible for the organization of all major international beach soccer events. It became part of FIFA in 2005 and has enjoyed a fruitful partnership with the worldwide soccer organization.
Joan Cusco, BSWW Executive Vice President, took some time to discuss the sport and its bright future.
Portada: How has Beach Soccer as an organization tried to market to U.S. Hispanics and Latin American fans?
Joan Cusco: Hispanic and Latin American fans are one of the most passionate soccer fans in the world. They love soccer, and they are also naturally gifted for beach soccer. So the combination sounds just perfect. This is why we have always invested and supported the National FAs in these regions to help lay the foundations for beach soccer to become a key part of the soccer fans lives. Actually, the sport has its roots in Brazil, as everybody reckons, and the whole Latin America area is a place where the passion for beach soccer is strongly felt. We have to keep on supporting that passion working with the National Football Associations to set up grassroots programs, National Leagues, International events, etc. This is how we will see how the sport keeps growing in the Hispanic and Latin American communities.
Portada: Are there any Beach Soccer sponsors or partners that are tied into Latino support of the sport?
J.C.: The sponsors of our events normally come from the market where the event takes place. So, for example, when having an event in Miami or Rio de Janeiro, or Paraguay, or El Salvador, the sponsors supporting the event come from the local markets, which means they are a part of the fans reality in that same region.
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Portada: Are there plans for additional events in Latin America and/or traditionally strong Hispanic U.S. markets?
J.C.: We are working hand in hand with CONCACAF and CONMEBOL to increase the number of the events in those markets where beach soccer has a strong presence already and, at the same time, to help the markets that have an interest to make their first steps in the organization of international events. Very importantly, we are working hard to help develop Women’s beach soccer, to see more and more teams take part in competitions. Last year we saw the first ever International Women’s competition in Puerto Vallarta (MEX), with Spain and Mexico, an event that grows this year in number of participants. At the same time, San Diego, home to the next World Beach Games 2019
Portada: What are some of the factors that will determine the sport’s growth over the next 3-5 years?
J.C.: Obviously, the number of players, number of teams involved and number of international events are the figures that will determine the growth of the sport. But there are also other factors, such as the increasing participation of women, the number of National Leagues, etc.
Cover image courtesy Beach Soccer Worldwide