Via Axios Sports.
The FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup begins today at a newly-built arena in Moscow, Axios' Jeff Tracy writes.
How it works: Four groups of four will play a round-robin, with the top two teams in each group advancing to the knockout stage. Fox Sports will air the tournament, which runs through Aug. 29.
- Group A: Football Union of Russia (No. 4 world ranking), U.S. (16), Paraguay (9), Japan (6)
- Group B: Mozambique (93), Spain (5), UAE (14), Tahiti (13)
- Group C: Belarus (15), El Salvador (20), Switzerland (8), Brazil (2)
- Group D: Portugal (1), Oman (21), Senegal (10), Uruguay (11)
The backdrop: Beach soccer began in Rio in 1940, but it took 50 years for a formal governing body to arrive. The World Championships were held annually from 1995 to 2004 on Rio's Copacabana beach before FIFA took over in 2005 and rebranded it as the Beach World Cup.
How it works: Games last 36 minutes, broken into 12-minute periods, with no ties. Three minutes of extra time are added if tied at the end of regulation, followed by a shootout, and wins are worth more if you win in regulation (three points) vs. extra time (two) or shootout (one).
- The field is 40 yards long by 30 yards wide (field soccer: 115x74) and goals are seven feet tall by 18 feet wide (field soccer: 8x24). The balls are the same size as normal, but lighter and less inflated.
- Teams have 14 players, with five playing at a time (one as a goalie). Subs are unlimited and even allowed during the action (like hockey).
- Speaking of hockey, red cards are more like power plays. The offending player is still disqualified from the match, but after two minutes his team can replace him on the field.