Spain 3-2 Italy: Overtime Slap in the Face, Azzurri Title Hopes Crushed in Semi-Finals (FIFA Futsal World Cup 2008)

As far as Spain vs. Italy goes, sure isn’t a good year for Italian fans. First, there was the UEFA Futsal Euro 2007 final (lost 3-1)… then this Summer’s Euro 2008 quarter-finals story we all know. Now, for the FIFA Futsal World Cup 2008 Semi-Finals and for the third time in less than a year, a Furia Roja team got the upper hand on the Azzurri.

This time however the slap in the face couldn’t have been bigger, because Italy lost 3-2 in overtime: a match which the Azzurri deserved to win, and by the looks of Spain’s last goal, really did not deserve to lose.

Futsal Rules in a nutshell

• Games are played on a rectangular pitch approximately 40 x 20 m in size. Playing surface is usually made of wood or artificial material (flat, smooth, non-abrasive).
• Duration of the match is two periods of 20 minutes, with a 10-15 min. half-time interval. Clock is considered “out of play” (that is, time is stopped every time the ball is out of play for a kick-in, free-kick, corner-kick etc.). Teams are entitled to a one-minute time-out in each half.
• Matches are played 5 vs. 5 (including the goalkeeper). Team roster includes 14 players, with unlimited substitutions allowed.
• Games are played with a Size 4 official Futsal soccer ball, which has a very low bounce designed essentially to facilitate ball control.
Kick-ins are taken instead of throw-ins, and must be taken within 4 seconds of the player taking possession of the ball.
Fouls & free-kicks: for the first 5 accumulated fouls recorded against either team in each half, the players of the opposing team may form a wall to defend a free-kick. Beginning with the 6th accumulated foul recorded against either team in each half, the defending team’s players may not form a wall to defend a free kick, and all the other players (except the kicker) must remain BEHIND the ball (i.e. behind an imaginary line that is level with the ball and parallel to the goal line). No player may cross this imaginary line until the ball has been struck and starts to move.

So what happened exactly? The incriminated minute is the 49th of the match, more specifically the last minute of the second half of extra time. With the score tied 2-2 (the match had ended 1-1 at full-time, going into extra time) about 7 seconds left on the clock, Italy’s Edgar Bertoni’s pass was intercepted by a Spanish player (Marcelo), who then tried a one-two exchange with his team-mate Alvaro. The ball however was blocked by the Azzurri defense, first bouncing off of Bertoni and then Foglia, heading towards the post.

At this point, video replay images show that the game clock hits zero, but the ball still has time to rebound off the post towards Foglia, and then into the net. Goal? No goal? Spanish players start celebrating because the referees have allowed the goal. The Italian staff demands to see video replay evidence (not permitted by regulations), at which point all hell breaks loose in the Maracanazinho stadium, with the Italian manager turning red, the crowd booing the referees’ decision, and the Spanish players retiring to the changing rooms. 15 minutes later, the refs would recall them onto the field in order to play the remaining second still on the clock (or so they claim), to enable Italy to take their kick-off kick.

The Italian federation, after a long debate, announced they would not protest the decision. Italian manager Alessandro Nuccorini was however, quite understandly, seriously pi**ed at the match’s outcome: “First, congratulations to Spain” said Nuccorini. “Since Lozano stepped down as manager, this has become a real team. Venancio Lopez is a great coach, not like Lozano who simply called up the players and let them play by themselves. With that said, everyone witnessed what a scandal the last play was. The own goal was scored when the match was over, just have a look at the video replay, this case is too particular for FIFA to refuse to do so.”

FIFA on their part, justified allowing the late goal with the following:

The third Spanish goal in match 54, the semi-final Spain-Italy (3-2 a.e.t) in Rio de Janeiro on 16 October 2008, caused a lot of discussion. The own-goal scored by Italy’s Nº10, Adriano Foglia, occurred in the very last second of the second half of extra-time. Referee Antonio Alvarez (Cuba) indicated immediately that the goal in favour of the Spanish team was valid. Meanwhile, the Italian team claimed that the ball crossed the goal-line after the clock had signalled 0.0 seconds.

Due to the chaotic scenes on and off court, and for security reasons, it was decided that the referee, the second referee, the third referee and the timekeeper should go back to their dressing room before restarting the match.

Timekeeper Asselam Khan (Mozambique) had stopped the clock after the third Spanish goal. The horn sounds automatically when playing time is over, with no direct intervention from the timekeeper. The fact that the horn did not sound proves that the match was not over when the goal was scored.

Once order had been restored, and after the match was restarted, the automatic horn could be heard by all present at the Maracanazinho hall.

Running a futsal league myself and having similar clock/horn equipment, I can attest that the horn explanation is valid. My guess is that when the clock hits zero, there are still fractions of a second left that do not appear on the video display. Hence, the game is only officially over at the sound of the horn.

Still, such a shame that the match had to end this way. As for Spanish/Italian bragging rights, this was a bad year for us Azzurri fans… to say the least.


 Real Federación Española de Fútbol
FIFA Futsal World Cup 2008
3-2 (a.e.t.)
 Federazione Italiana Giuoco Calcio
GOALSCORERS: 4’44’’ Daniel (S), 6’34’’ Foglia (I), 44’24’’ Fernandao (S), 48’16’’ Grana (I), 50’00’’ Foglia o.g. (S).
SPAIN: Luis Amado, Kike, Torras, Javi Rodriguez, Marcelo (bench: Ortiz, Eseverri, Alvaro, Borja, Fernandao, Daniel, Juanjo). Coach: Venancio Lopez.
ITALY: Feller, Pellegrini, Assis, Fabiano, Morgado (bench: Grana, Jubanski, Bertoni, Nora, Foglia, Zanetti, Farina). Coach: Nuccorini.


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Posted in Azzurri, Futsal, International Competitions |

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