Baku, June 13, AZERTAC
If entertainment, excitement and atmosphere are what counts, Beach Soccer is fully deserving of a place at the top table of international sport.
It is just 10 years since FIFA took football's brash younger brother under its wing, and with the sport now active in 115 nations, it has been time well spent.
Inclusion in the programme for the Baku 2015 European Games is a crucial next step.
"Everybody in the world of Beach Soccer is going to be watching Baku 2015," said Joan Cusco, vice president of Beach Soccer Worldwide (BSWW) and FIFA beach soccer committee member.
"We want to impress the authorities – the government, BEGOC (Baku European Games Operations Committee) and the European Olympic Committees, showing them that we add the maximum value."
With four of the five top ranked teams in the world competing in Baku, the Portugal 2015 World Cup coming up in July and ever increasing international audiences, Cusco is pleased with the sport's growing status.
"This is our dream," he said. "For sure this is the best year in our history."
Beach Soccer, which averages 8.4 goals per game, will next set its sights on inclusion in the Olympic Games.
"Beach Soccer's only challenge is being in the Olympics. This (Baku 2015) is a way to get a little bit closer," Cusco said.
"I would say if the following Olympics were in Brazil it would be the right timing to get in. But Japan (host of the 2020 Olympic Games) is still a good market for us. We are pushing the Japanese Olympic Committee. We will try," said Cusco.
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