On December 12, 2019, Lil Uzi Vert released a single titled “Futsal Shuffle.” The song, from his album Eternal Atake, currently has 22 million views on YouTube and sounds like a slowed-down Dance Dance Revolution track with a booming kick and ticking hi-hats.
Two days later, the word “futsal” reached its highest point on Google trends, proving the influence and curiosity of Lil Uzi Vert fans. When the official music video dropped on January 6, the second-highest spike of “futsal” followed.
The eternal (atake) question is, of course, “what is futsal?” In that week of December, this was a popular question, but it’s also been asked before. BBC investigated in 2013, followed by the Los Angeles Times the following year.
If you’ve played soccer or are a fan of the sport, these inquiries sound something like that guy on Jeopardy begging to know “what are dogs?”
What is futsal?
Futsal is a sport, very much like soccer with a few key differences. Instead of 11 people per side, there are only 5: four field players and a goalkeeper. Instead of a grass or artificial turf, the game is played on a hard surface like a basketball court. Compared to soccer, futsal is much faster-paced, and players take much more creative liberty in their dribbling. It seems showboaty, and it is. But on a smaller, crowded field, fancy footwork is often required to evade the opponent, as a player cannot simply run into open space or solely rely on passing. In fact, the footwork required to play futsal may have inspired the name of Lil Uzi Vert’s single, which requires a professional level of coordination to keep up with the official dance.
On Instagram, futsal players can be seen performing impressive feats of athleticism with a backing soundtrack of shitty electronic music—soccer highlights seem to attract this genre of music, for some reason. While it would be a slight departure, “Futsal Shuffle” would be an excellent backing track for such highlight videos, and a welcome improvement.
Football (aka soccer) fans should be grateful for Lil Uzi Vert bringing more attention to this excellent sport of both skill and strength. And "Futsal Shuffle" is just one of numerous times rappers have shown love to soccer and soccer-adjacent sports. In 2017, Pusha-T, when asked in an interview with COPA90 in Germany if he watched football (soccer), responded with a resounding “sometimes.” He went on to say he had a Milan jersey as part of his tour wardrobe. And in the cryptic video posted by creative company pg-lang, launched by Kendrick Lamar earlier this year, there is a scene of a man in a balaclava winding up to kick a soccer ball.
These may sound like small nods, but to soccer fans who also listen to hip-hop, they are happily received. While Lil Uzi makes no mention of soccer, or futsal, or even shuffling in this song, we’ll take what we can get.