With Sunday’s ouster of both Cote d’Ivoire and African Champions Senegal from the 2013 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in Tahiti, Africa continued to maintain its tradition of generally performing poorly in the now bi-annual international competition.
Senegal was eliminated in Group C and Cote d’Ivoire was seen off in Group D as both teams occupied the bottom of their respective group tables after three matches.
The results were not unexpected as Africa had perennially performed below per in previous competitions.
Africa was represented right from the inaugural FIFA event in 2005 at the beautiful Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, with South Africa in Group C from which it did not qualify for the next round.
Beaten 7-3 by Uruguay and 8-1 by Ukraine, the South Africans were last in the three-team group and were eliminated.
Cameroon flew the African flag in 2006, also in Rio, finishing last in the four-team Group C table and did not proceed to the next round.
In 2007 in Rio, Senegal and Nigeria represented Africa and both teams went through to quarter-finals where they were eliminated by France and Uruguay respectively.
The first time the tournament was moved out of Brazil (to Marseille, France), Senegal and Cameroon represented Africa but none could go beyond the Group stage.
The story was the same in 2009 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, with Senegal and Nigeria failing to go beyond the group stage.
And in 2011 in Ravenna, Italy, both Senegal and Nigeria qualified for the quarter-finals but that was the farthest they could go.
Senegal was eliminated by Portugal on penalties after they tied 4-4 in regulation time while the Nigerians were sent home by Brazil 10-8 after extra time.
Beach soccer became a part of the FIFA family in 2005, with the first-ever FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup taking place at the Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The tournament has taken place every year since its establishment in 1995, when it was originally supervised by Beach Soccer World Wide (BSWW) and was called the Beach Soccer World Championship.
Due to the sport’s rapid growth, FIFA took over the organization of the competition in 2005 and rebranded it as an official FIFA tournament.
Contested by the national teams of the member associations of FIFA, the sport’s global governing body, it became a bi-annual event after the 2009 event in Dubai. This, according to FIFA, is to allow continental tournaments to flourish without the burden of the World Cup qualifiers crowding the schedule.
The growing global popularity of beach soccer resulted in FIFA’s decision to move the staging of the World Cup from Brazil, its native home, to other parts of the globe. The first edition held outside Brazil was in 2008 in Marseille, France.
The current format of the tournament lasts over a week. It involves 16 teams competing initially in four groups of four teams.
The group winners and runners-up advance to a series of knockout stages until the final. The losing semifinalist teams play each other in a 3rd place play-off match to determine the third-placed team.