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Men playing football on artificial grass pitch.
Five-a-side game on artificial turf pitch, Singapore

Five-a-side football is a version of minifootball, in which each team fields five players (four outfield players and a goalkeeper). Other differences from association football include a smaller pitch, smaller goals, and a reduced game duration. Matches are played indoors, or outdoors on artificial grass pitches that may be enclosed within a barrier or "cage" to prevent the ball from leaving the playing area and keep the game constantly flowing.

Five-a-side football is an informal, small-sided game with flexible rules, often determined before play begins. The penalty area is semi-circular and only the goalkeeper can touch the ball within it. There are no offside rules, headers are allowed, and yellow and red cards work similarly to traditional 11-a-side football. Players must wear shin guards and are prohibited from wearing metal studded boots.

Variations of five-a-side football include futsal, indoor soccer, jorkyball, beach soccer, six-a-side football, and seven-a-side football, each with their own unique rules and pitch dimensions. SUB football is a seven-a-side variation mainly played in Australia and New Zealand. There is also blind football, played by athletes with visual impairments.

Five-a-side football is quite popular among youth organizations in the US, and some teams have secured sponsorship deals worth thousands of pounds. Governing bodies like the World Minifootball Federation, International Socca Federation, and JFA7 promote small-sided football competitions and unite national associations.


The penalty area is significantly different from football: it is semi-circular in shape, only the goalkeeper is allowed to touch the ball within it, and they may or may not be allowed out. Goalkeepers are only allowed to give the ball out to another player through hands. The goalkeeper may only kick the ball to effect a save. There are no offside rules. Headers are allowed. There is no protocol of deliberate handball versus accidental handball – the referee needs to make a decision based on the distance from where the ball was hit. Yellow cards may result in the offending player being sent to the "sin bin" for a predetermined length of time. Red cards work in the same way as the 11-a-side game, the offending player being dismissed from the match. Charging/sliding tackles are awarded a yellow card.

Additionally, metal studded boots cannot be worn, as this would damage the playing surface. Players are also required to wear shin guards, but enforcement of this is usually at the discretion of the referee.

Five-a-side is commonly played informally, and the rules are therefore flexible and are sometimes decided immediately before play begins; this is in contrast to futsal, for which official laws are published by FIFA.

The English FA have drawn up a full list of laws for the small-sided game which expands upon the rules outlined above and includes minimum/maximum pitch dimensions as well as technicalities on free-kicks and other parts of the game.[1][2][3][4]



Main article: Futsal

Futsal is a version of indoor five-a-side football developed by the Asociación Mundial de Fútbol de Salón (AMF / English: World Futsal Association). It currently has two governing bodies: the AMF and the association football international body; the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA).

Indoor soccer

Main article: Indoor soccer

Indoor soccer is an indoor variant played primarily in North America, typically with six-a-side teams on an ice hockey-sized pitch.


Jorkyball is a 2vs2 format of football played in a plexiglass cage of 10m x 5m. The players can use the walls to pass and to score. The governing body is the Jorkyball International Federation.

Beach soccer

Main article: Beach soccer

Beach soccer is a variation on five-a-side football in that it is played on a sandy surface. Rules do not greatly differ from those found in regular five-a-side football.

Diagram of seven-a-side football pitch showing pitch markings and dimensions.
Seven-a-side pitch markings. Dimensions and shape of penalty area may differ for other variants.


Main article: Omegaball

A variation with three five-a-side teams playing simultaneously on a circular pitch 60 yards (55 m) in diameter. A team scores a point by advancing the ball through either of their opponents' goals.The game was invented in, and is seen primarily in, the United States.[5]

Six-a-side football

Main article: International Socca Federation

A variation with increased pitch size and number of players on a team. In this variation there are five outfield players and one goalkeeper on the pitch for each team at any time. Other rules do not differ from those found in five-a-side football.

Seven-a-side football

Main article: Seven-a-side football

This is another variation with increased pitch and team size; in this case with six outfield players and a goalkeeper on each side. The rules differ from those from five-a-side.[6]

SUB football is a variation of seven-a-side football primarily played in Australia and New Zealand. The rules have been modified slightly to encourage new players to the game, with strict enforcement of non-contact and two ways to score points: by scoring a goal in the same manner as the other formats, or by scoring a board that is on either side of the goal. The boards are usually 2.5m long and one third of the height of the goal. A goal is 3 points and a board is 1 point. When the ball goes out of play, it may be kicked or thrown in. This applies to the sideline and corners.[7][8]

Blind football

Main article: Blind football

Different organisations

There are many operators of five-a-side football in Europe (Powerleague, Goals Soccer Center, UrbanSoccer), and most of all in the UK.[9]

World Minifootball Federation (WMF) unites 71 national associations, grouped into federations by continent. European Minifootball Federation consists of 32 member associations. EMF organizes EMF miniEURO and EMF Champions League competitions.

International Socca Federation (ISF) is a six-a-side football organization, running yearly Socca World Cup events since 2018. 44 national teams participated in the 2023 Socca World Cup.

The F5WC is the world's largest amateur five-a-side football tournament in the world with over 48 participating nations.[citation needed]

IFA7 is the international association that promotes seven-a-side football. IFA7 held the first known Seven-a-side Football World Cup in 2017 in Guatemala, with Russia winning the title.[10][11]

Small-side football facilities are increasingly popular as a way for clubs to generate revenue through rentals, birthday parties and corporate events and to allow early scouting of young players.

Youth organisations

The popularity of five-a-side youth football has grown tremendously within the US.[12][13] Many organisations have chosen this format and modified it slightly to promote an environment where children can excel early in youth sports.[14] The American Youth Soccer Organization and the United States Youth Soccer Association are among the largest organisations bringing this format to the regional US-based youth soccer arena.[15][16][17]


In recent years a few five-a-side teams have found themselves sponsorship deals with thousand-pound contracts. Sponsors feel with the vast numbers of participation in five-a-side football rising in the UK that it is a good place to advertise and tend to sponsor competition winners or league winners at local facilities so that they know that their deals are with the best five-a-side teams around the area.[18]

See also


  1. ^ " - Small Sided Football - Laws of the Game". The FA. Retrieved 2016-05-20.
  2. ^ David Conn (2012-05-28). "FA votes for smaller-sided matches for young footballers | Football". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2012-07-16.
  3. ^ Winter, Henry (2012-05-28). "Football Association make historic decision on future of youth football for the future good of England". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2012-07-16.
  4. ^ Roan, Dan (2012-05-28). "Football Association vote in favour of youth football changes". BBC Sport. Retrieved 2012-07-16.
  5. ^ Summerscales, Robert (2022-04-05). "What Is OmegaBall? Rules Of Soccer's Newest Format Explained". Futbol on FanNation. Retrieved 2023-10-11.
  6. ^ "FA changes to youth football – what's in store? « Club Website – News and Updates". 2012-05-31. Archived from the original on 2012-07-05. Retrieved 2012-08-03.
  7. ^ "SUB football is on the way". Stuff. 31 August 2009. Retrieved 2017-08-09.
  8. ^ "Sub Football Call For Teams For 14th Season". Scoop. Retrieved 2017-08-09.
  9. ^ Terry Macalister (2007-09-03). "Popularity of five-a-side kicks off profits | Business". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2012-08-03.
  10. ^ "World Cup". Archived from the original on 2016-05-25.
  11. ^ "Rusia es el campeón de la Copa del Mundo IFA 7" (in Spanish). 30 October 2017.
  12. ^ ESPN FC, Relegation Zone, Sep. 20, 2012, Soccer's big takeover
  13. ^ New York Times, July 23, 2010, Soccer's Growth in the U.S. Seems Steady
  14. ^, Jan. 6, 2011, The History of Women's High School Soccer
  15. ^ AYSO National Rules & Regulations AYSO 2011–2012 Version
  16. ^ At a Glance | US Youth Soccer
  17. ^ "About AYSO". Archived from the original on 2013-09-17. Retrieved 2013-09-12.
  18. ^ Hans Kundnani (2006-10-03). "Five-a-side fever nets increased turnover for Powerleague | Business". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2012-08-03.