Beach Soccer History
Brazilians love beaches and soccer. By decades, playing soccer at the beach has been a favorite pastime of Brazilians from all States.
When groups of close friends play frequently, it's common that a "team" is created (usually by just a verbal agreement), to play against other teams. The really enthusiasts may even go to the point of designing uniforms and formally constitute a team; this group, called
V.T.F., was founded 1987 by a group which used to meet at the Copacabana beach.
In the early 1990s, some famous players who had just retired from field soccer (like Zico, ex-Flamengo, Junior, ex-Flamengo, and Edinho, ex-Fluminense) were playing frequently on the beach, which attracted attention from audience and media. Actually, it is very common that field soccer players go to the beach, but Junior was a kind of king of beaches (where he played just for fun), so his presence (and of those who accepted his invitations for friendly matches) draw more attention.
Because of its strong appeal, boosted by the presence of famous players, soon beach soccer found support to become a business. A group called Octagon Koch Tavares/IBSA, especialized in organizing sports events, got in touch with the best structured teams to give the first steps towards an official tournament (by this time, the official rules of beach soccer began to be defined). TV Globo, the most important Brazilian news network, saw in this sport a perfect filler for the Sunday mornings (much cheaper than conventional soccer broadcasting, an enthusiastic audience easily targetable); audiences on Sunday mornings were guaranteed by Ayrton Senna victories, but after his death in 1994 Globo had to find replacements (and beach soccer was one such).
In 1993, Brazilians were watching the first matches of beach soccer on TV; the rivalry between Brazilian States was much explored during this epoch, so matches like Rio vs. Sao Paulo were common. Until today, there are frequent tournaments (or even just single matches) with participation of State teams.
In November 1993, a Brazilian team was formed to play a tournament in Miami, USA (won by Brazil). The sponsorship was by McDonals, another corporation which soon saw the business potential of beach soccer; until today, all official tournaments in Brazil are sponsored by McDonalds.
In 1994, the first Mundialito (a non-official world tournament) was played in Rio; that same year, the Brazilian team also played in South American tournaments.
In January 1995, the first Beach Soccer World Cup was played in Rio. By that time, a few other entities around the world had already captured the message from Rio, and several countries had already made their national teams. World Cups became an annual event, and the popularity never stopped growing.
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