UEFA has hailed the success of the first Futsal Champions League tournament, which was won by Portuguese side Sporting CP in Almaty, Kazakhstan after seeing off competition from Barcelona, Inter FS and local club Kairat.
Club futsal in Europe has undergone what UEFA describe as a 'revolution' after the decision to change the name of its premier competition from the UEFA Futsal Cup to the UEFA Futsal Champions League in the hope of helping the sport gain a higher profile.
Along with the name change, approved by the UEFA Executive Committee in 2017 after 17 years under its old guise, came a new trophy and competition branding.
With Kairat a European futsal 'powerhouse', a competition record crowd of 12,090 was in attendance for the semi-final between the local favourites and Barcelona. But it was Sporting CP, three time runners-up in previous years, who eventually emerged with the trophy.
"European futsal can envisage a bright future as UEFA's new strategy for the sport starts to have a significant impact," said UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin.
"Important decisions taken by UEFA for the club and national-team games are enhancing futsal's status and strengthening its appeal - and the signs are particularly promising for the club game on this continent."
🏅🏆 Super Cup ✔️— Sporting CP English (@SportingCPen) April 29, 2019
🇵🇹🏆 Portuguese Cup ✔️
🇪🇺🏆 #UCLFutsal ✔️
🥇🏆 #LigaSportZone 🏳️
There's only one club that achieved the continental 'Quadruple' when, in 2005, Action 21 Charleroi conquered all four main competitions.
Let's make history, boys. #FutsalSCP pic.twitter.com/Ov64uVHeEs
Sporting CP president Frederico Varandas commented, "I am used to hearing this kind of atmosphere in football, but over the last few years I have begun to notice a big difference," said the president of Sporting CP.
"This year it has been at a different level since the introduction of the UEFA Futsal Champions League. The brand is different and is a good way to help futsal to continue to develop.
"I come from a country where futsal is the second sport and has a lot of popularity and strength. People love futsal. This final four tournament should be seen by all the football associations. For instance in Portugal, when Sporting CP play against Benfica [in futsal] the atmosphere is incredible and if the arena seated 20,000 people then it would be completely sold out.
"I think it is time for the big clubs in Europe to look towards futsal."
Kairat coach Kaka believes the name change to be a positive one because it brings a greater sense grandeur and importance to the competition.
"Fans coming to watch the matches are not coming to watch the UEFA Futsal Cup, instead they are attending the UEFA Futsal Champions League," he said. "This is completely different. You feel like you are at a UEFA Champions League match, which is especially important for those supporters who do not have the opportunity to attend a football game in this competition."