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International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Thursday, 09.04.2020, 17:16

Lithuania to Host the 2020 FIFA Futsal World Cup

BC, Vilnius, 05.02.2020.Print version
2020 is set to be a big year for sport in Lithuania. This is because the 2020 FIFA Futsal World Cup will be held here. What is it all about and what does its presence mean for the country?

What is the FIFA Futsal World Cup?

This is the ninth time that this tournament will be played. It started out in 1989, when the inaugural event took place in the Netherlands, with Brazil beating the United States 4-1 in the final.

The last time it was played was in Colombia in 2016. This time, Argentina beat Russia 5-4 in a thrilling final. Brazil has won the title five times, with Spain winning it twice, and Argentina becoming only the third nation to do so with their victory in 2016.

The games are played indoors with both teams having five players. Many of the rules are similar to those found in full-size soccer, but it has more of an emphasis on close control and technique in tight spaces.

There will be 24 teams taking part in the World Cup in Lithuania. The host nation qualifies automatically, while the remaining 23 teams have each qualified from their different regions to take part.

Among the team to recently earn their place in the tournament are Russia and Portugal. Both countries had top four finishes the last time around and have qualified from groups C and A, respectively.

Where and When Will the Games Be Played?

The final list of approved venues includes three cities in Lithuania. The first one is Vilnius, where the action will take place in the Siemens Arena. Other games are scheduled for the Žalgiris Arena in Kaunas. The final venue is Klaipėda, where the Švyturys Arena will be used.

The initial group games start on 12 September 2020. The details of which teams will play in each venue haven’t been decided yet, although we know that Lithuania will be in group A. 4 October will see the final played and the tournament reach its conclusion.

What Does It Mean for Lithuania?

As this is the first time that the country hosts a FIFA event, it is a chance for Lithuania to show its ability to hold a major sporting event. While futsal isn’t as globally popular as the likes of soccer and basketball, it will still attract lots of viewers from around the planet.

A good example of the appeal of this sport comes from the Premier Futsal League that started up in 2016. This tournament features marquee signings of famous soccer stars such as Paul Scholes, Hernan Crespo, and Ronaldinho. However, the icons of the sport are Brazilian Falcão and Portuguese Ricardinho, whose freestyle skills are quite entertaining to watch.

Its first season was seen by 13 million TV viewers, with 4.8 million watching the opening day.

In financial terms, this sort of major sporting event can be beneficial to the host nation. However, in some cases the cost of hosting a tournament like this can be so high that an overall loss is reported. This was seen in the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, which went wildly over budget and eventually cost US$15 billion.

On the other hand, the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles was the only modern version of this event that ended in profit. In this case, they gained a surplus of over $200 million from the games. Another good example comes from the betting markets of Super Bowl, which generates millions for the NFL every single year.

It remains to be seen how much Lithuania has to invest in this futsal event. However, if the budget has been worked out well then it should prove to be a financial success as well as being a sporting occasion to remember for a long time.

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