An average temperature of 25 °C, cloudless skies, beautiful beaches and blue sea. What sounds like a perfect day on holiday is in fact a description of this year’s venue for the Socca World Cup 2019 on the Greek Mediterranean island of Crete. A total of 40 teams will compete for the coveted title from 12 to 20 October on the beach at Rethymno. It is organised by the International Socca Federation and features amateur football players from all over the world. The Socca World Cup tournament has the following structure: In the group phase from Saturday to Friday, 12 to 18 October, matches will be played in eight groups each containing five teams on a round-robin basis.
The two teams at the top of each group will then go through to the round of 16. From this point, it becomes a knock-out tournament through the quarter-finals and semi-finals until finally, on 20 September, the final will be held at 9.55 pm after which the new Socca World Cup winners will be crowned on the beach at Rethymno. One of the teams competing on Crete will be the reigning Socca World Cup winners, Germany. The Germans will play their first group game on the first day of the tournament against Hungary, followed by matches against Romania, Slovenia and Pakistan.
For the German national team, therefore, this year’s Socca World Cup on Crete involves nothing less than putting up a great defence of their title. A tight 1:0 victory against Poland a year ago was enough to take the coveted trophy after a game in the most famous square in Lisbon, Praça do Comércio. At both venues, Praça do Comércio in Lisbon and the beach at Rethymno, the tournament was/is played in a pop-up stadium which features the LigaTurf Socca synthetic turf system. This synthetic turf is a special Polytan product primarily used for socca courts and mini pitches, which was developed specifically for the Socca World Cup 2018 in collaboration with the ISF (International Socca Federation). Its special features include the fact that the system can be installed permanently and temporarily and that as it requires no infill, it delivers ideal conditions for high quality football on small six-a-side pitches.
More and more sporting events are no longer being held in large football and athletic stadiums, which are often outside urban areas, and instead are being staged in city centres on public squares where they create a big event feeling without people having to travel long distances to see them. Naturally, this requires temporary sports surface systems, which Polytan can supply both in the form of synthetic turf and tartan surfaces. The overriding requirement is that the temporary sports facilities deliver performance features and player protection comparable to permanent ones. Polytan has managed to achieve this with its LigaTurf Socca synthetic turf – a robust, easy care sports surface which delivers perfect conditions for high speed dribbling, exciting one-on-ones and precision passing in a small space, whilst still protecting the players from injuries.
The system has a similar structure to the successful LigaTurf Cross synthetic football turf with both smooth and textured filaments combined in a single product. However, in the LigaTurf Socca the crimped fibres are blue giving the pitch an extraordinarily lively appearance. The particularly dense turf surface means that the synthetic turf requires no infill and, as a result of the patented CoolPlus function, the pitch becomes less hot on warm days. Naturally, it is also ideal for classic mini pitches, soccer courts or other boarded pitches for both children and adults, giving them a special look with both green and blue synthetic filaments and without requiring infill.
LigaTurf Socca lays the foundation for dynamic, exciting socca. To make it even more exciting, the rules differ slightly from the classic laws of football, taking into account the special features imposed by the fact that the pitch measures just 47 x 28 m and the goals just 4 x 2 m.
Teams at the Socca World Cup are made up of five outfield players and a goalkeeper. Five additional substitutes may be made on a rolling basis throughout the match. The match duration is 2 x 20 minutes. If the teams are drawing at full-time, a penalty shoot-out is held. The penalty shoot-out is similar to the one versus one penalty in ice hockey – the outfield player runs towards the goalkeeper and has 10 seconds to beat him and score a goal. Furthermore, there are no offsides and no side lines or dead ball lines in socca. And slide tackles are not allowed. For a throw-in, the ball, which is identical to standard footballs, is kicked into the playing area and not thrown. Yellow and red cards are given for foul play and other offences. If a red card is given, the player must leave the pitch and cannot be replaced by a substitute for 5 minutes.
All these socca rules ensure that the matches are exciting and full of goals. This is supplemented by the special venues where the Socca World Cup is held, which create an extraordinary atmosphere and hold the spectators under their spell with sheer magic. The synthetic turf system, which makes professional football possible on a temporary surface, will also play a major role in ensuring the success of this major event on the beach at Rethymno.