Beach soccer is bigger than beach volleyball: Cusco
It can never match football’s popularity, but Joan Cusco has no doubt in his mind that beach soccer is now the most celebrated beach sport in the world.
“Well, to tell you the truth, beach soccer is already a bigger sport than beach volleyball,” Cusco, Fifa Beach Soccer CEO, told Khaleej Times during the draw for the Samsung Beach Soccer Intercontinental Cup 2013 held recently.
“We already have 110 countries that play beach soccer. Our target is to get to the 150 mark in the next three years,” he added. “Yes, we are never going to be as big as football. But if you compare it to beach volleyball, then yes, we are much larger than them. Some people still believe beach volleyball is the ultimate beach sport. But the reality is we have the larger number of tournaments, larger number of teams, larger number of crowds and, of course, the larger number of television audience. So there is no more comparison with them. We have already surpassed them,” Cusco said.
So what’s next for the sport that has achieved massive popularity in places like Brazil and Dubai? “The next stage will be the women’s competition. We already have the women’s event, it hasn’t yet reached the heights,” he informed.
“The other thing we are now aiming at is the Olympics. We have been accepted as an Olympic sport and it could be included as one of the new disciplines in near future.
“There was a chance for us to be included, but the window was closed as there was the election for IOC president.
“But when the door opens again, we will try to make beach soccer part of Summer Olympics.
“In fact, recently the head of the local organising committee of the 2016 Rio Olympics said that if we have beach soccer the Olympics in Brazil, the stadium would be never big enough! Such is the craze for this wonderful sport in that country.”
Cusco agrees that beach soccer will get even bigger if they promote the game more in Africa. “Yes, Africa is one region we would love to have more tournaments in. We see lot of talent and passion there,” he said. “Maybe they don’t have the proper infrastructure, most of them have never trained in a proper way. But they have an uncanny knock of producing top players in football. Since we are looking at increasing our number of tournaments and teams, so we are going to promote beach soccer more in the next two years.
“See we already took the game to a place like Tahiti where we had the World Cup this year. Of course, they don’t have world-class infrastructure. But beach soccer is an event that looks good on locations that a country like Tahiti can offer. And we had a fantastic tournament there.”
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