|This article relies on references to primary sources. (April 2009)|
A floorball match between Sweden (yellow) and Finland (white).
|Highest governing body||International Floorball Federation|
|Nickname(s)||Innebandy, Salibandy, Unihockey|
|Contact||Moderate (shoulder to shoulder)|
|Team members||5 + Goalkeeper|
Floorball, a type of floor hockey, is an indoor team sport which was developed in the 1970s in Sweden. Floorball is most popular in areas where the sport has developed the longest, such as the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. The game is played indoors on a wooden or rubber mat floor or just a basketball court, making it a year-round sport at amateur and professional levels. There are professional leagues, such as Finland's Salibandyliiga and Sweden's Svenska Superligan.
While there are 55 members of the International Floorball Federation (IFF), the Czech Republic, Finland, Sweden and Switzerland have finished in most of the coveted 1st, 2nd and 3rd places at the World Floorball Championships.
In addition to those four countries, floorball is gaining popularity in countries such as Latvia, Australia, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia and the United States.
The game was invented in early 1970s in Gothenburg, Sweden. The sport began as something that was played for fun as a pastime at schools. After a decade or so, floorball began showing up in Nordic countries where the former schoolyard pastime was becoming a developed sport. Formal rules soon were developed, and clubs began to form. After some time, several countries developed national associations, and the IFF was founded in 1986.
The game of floorball is also known by many other names, such as salibandy (in Finland), innebandy (in Sweden and Norway), and unihockey (in Switzerland and Germany). The names "salibandy" and "innebandy" are derived from bandy; both of those names literally translate to "indoor bandy". Unihockey is derived from "universal hockey" since it is meant to be a special and simplified hockey form.
When the IFF was founded in 1986, the sport was played in mostly Nordic countries, Japan, and several parts of Europe. By 1990, floorball was recognized in 7 countries, and by the time of the first European Floorball Championships in 1994, that number had risen to 14. That number included the United States, who were the first country outside of Europe and Asia to recognize floorball. By the time of the first men's world championships in 1996, 20 nations played floorball, with 12 of them participating at the tournament.
As of 2009, the sport of floorball has been played in almost 80 countries. Of those, 55 have national floorball associations that are recognized by the IFF. With the addition of Sierra Leone, Africa's first floorball nation, the IFF has at least one national association on each continent of the world, with the exception of Antarctica.
10 years after the IFF was founded, the first world championships were played, with a sold out final of 15,106 people at the Globen in Stockholm, Sweden. In addition to that, the world's two largest floorball leagues, Finland's Salibandyliiga and Sweden's Svenska Superligan were formed, in 1986 and 1995 respectively.
In December 2008, the IFF and the sport of floorball received recognition from the International Olympic Committee (IOC). In July 2011 the IOC officially welcomed the IFF into its family of International Sports Federations (ISF). This will pave the way for Floorball to enter the official sport programme. The IFF hopes that this recognition will help allow floorball to become a part of the 2020 Summer Olympics.
In January 2009, the IFF and the sport of floorball received recognition from the Special Olympics. This recognition could make floorball an official Special Olympics sport in just two years. As well, the IFF hopes that floorball will be included as a demonstration sport at the 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games.
In addition to recognition by the International Olympic Committee and Special Olympics, the IFF is also a member of the General Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF), and co-operates with the International University Sports Federation (FISU).
World championships 
The world floorball championships are an annual event where teams from across the world gather to play in a tournament in order to win the world championship. As of 2011, eight Men's, eight Women's, six Men's Under-19, and four Women's Under-19 World Floorball Championships have taken place. The Czech Republic, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland remain the only five countries to have ever captured a medal at a World Championship event.
- The Men's World Floorball Championships take place every December (since 2008) in every even year.
- The Women's World Floorball Championships take place every December (since 2009) in every odd year.
- The Men's under-19 World Floorball Championships take place every May (since 2009) in every odd year.
- The Women's under-19 World Floorball Championships take place every May (since 2008) in every even year.
From 1996 to 2009, the IFF used a World Floorball Championship format where the last team in the A-Division was relegated to the B-Division, while the top team in the B-Division was promoted to the A-Division. This format caused much hardship for countries such as Australia, Canada, Slovakia, and Spain, who have all been trying to get to the B-Division from the C-Division since 2004. In 2010, the IFF adopted a FIFA-like continental qualification system, where teams must qualify to play at the world championships. Depending on the number of countries registered per continent or region, the IFF gives spots for the world championships. For example, Argentina, Brazil, Canada and the United States would need to play for one spot at the world championships in a continental qualification tournament for the Americas.
Floorball is played indoors on a rink whose size can officially vary from 18–22 meters wide to 36–44 meters long. The rink is surrounded by 50 cm high enclosed boards with rounded corners. The goals are 160 cm wide and 115 cm high. Their depth is 65 cm and they are 2.85 meters from the end of the nearest boards.
Field players 
Typical equipment for a floorball player consists of a stick, a pair of shorts, a shirt, socks, and indoor sport shoes. In addition to that, players are allowed to wear shin guards, eye protectors and protective padding for vital areas, although most don't. Protective eyewear is in some countries compulsory for junior players.
A floorball stick is short compared with ice hockey; the maximum size for a stick is 114 cm. As a stick cannot weigh any more than 350 grams, floorball manufacturers produce sticks that are often made of carbon and composite materials.
Goalkeepers wear protection that is very limited, such as padded pants, a padded chest protector, knee pads and a helmet. The goalkeeper can also wear other protective equipment, such as gloves, but bulky padding is not permitted. Some of this other protective equipment includes elbow pads and jock straps. Goalkeepers do not use sticks; instead, they use their hands to play the ball. They can throw the ball out to their teammates, however, the ball has to touch the ground before the half court mark. Goalkeepers are only allowed to use their hands to play the ball within the goalkeeper's box. When they are completely outside the box, they are considered a field player, and will not be allowed to touch the ball with their hands.
A floor ball weighs 23 grams and its diameter is 72 mm. It has 26 holes in it; each of which are 10 mm in diameter. Many of these balls now are made with aerodynamic technology, where the ball has over a thousand small dimples in it that reduce air resistance. There have been several times where a ball has been recorded to have traveled at a speed of approximately 200 km/h.
Each team can field six players at a time on the court, one player being a goalkeeper. But the coach can take the goalkeeper off for a short amount of time, and switch him with a field player. This can make advantages for the attacking side of the team, and disadvantages when it comes to their own defence. The team is also allowed to change players any time in the game, usually they change the whole team. Individual substitution happens sometimes, but it usually happens when a player is exhausted or is hurt.
A floorball game is officially played over three periods lasting 20 minutes each (15 minutes for juniors). The time is stopped in the case of penalties, goals, time-outs and any situation where the ball is not considered to be in play. An intermission of 10 minutes takes place between each period, where teams change ends and substitution areas. Each team is allowed one timeout of 30 seconds (which is often used late in matches). There are two referees to oversee the game, each with equal authority.
Checking is disallowed in floorball. Controlled shoulder-to-shoulder contact is allowed, but ice hockey-like checking is forbidden. Pushing players without the ball or competing for a loose ball is also disallowed, and many of these infractions lead to two minute penalties. The best comparison in terms of legal physical contact is football, where checking is used to improve one's positioning in relation to the ball rather than to remove an opposing player from the play. In addition to checking, players cannot lift another opponents stick or perform any stick infractions in order to get to the ball. As well, players may not raise their stick or play the ball above their knee level, and a stick cannot be placed in between a player's legs (to avoid tripping).
When a player commits a foul, or when the ball is deemed unplayable, play is resumed from a free-hit or a face-off. A free hit involves a player from one team to start play from the place where the ball was last deemed unplayable. A comparison of this is a free kick in soccer. For many fouls, such as stick infractions, a free hit is the only discipline provided. However, at the referee's discretion, a penalty may be worth either two or five minutes. At that point, the player who committed the foul sits in the penalty area, and his team is short handed for the time of the penalty. If an 'extreme' foul is committed, such as physical contact or unsportsmanlike behavior, a player may receive a 10 minute penalty or even a match misconduct.
Freebandy is a sport that developed in the 2000s from floorball fanatics who specialize in a technique called "zorro", which involves lifting the ball onto a stick and allowing air resistance and fast movements to keep the ball "stuck" to the stick. This technique is also referred to as "airhooking" or "skyhooking". In freebandy, the rules are very much the same of those of floorball, with the exception of high nets and no infractions for high sticking. As well, the sticks are slightly tweaked from those of a floorball variety to include a "pocket" where the ball can be placed.
Special Olympics 
Floorball at Special Olympics is slightly modified from the "regular" form of floorball. Matches are played 3-on-3 with a goaltender, on a smaller court that measures 20 meters long by 12 meters wide. This form of floorball was developed for the intellectually disabled, and has yet to be played at the Special Olympics. There is a strong possibility that it will be played at the 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games.
Swiss floorball 
Swiss floorball is a revised version of a floorball match. The match is played on a slightly smaller court and often involves only three field players playing on each side, in 3-on-3 floorball. This form of floorball is also slightly shorter, with only two periods of 15 to 20 minutes each played. In Switzerland this form of playing is called "smallcourt" (Kleinfeld), opposed to the usual style of playing on a bigger court, which is called "bigcourt" (Grossfeld).
Wheelchair floorball 
Originally developed for players with disabilities, wheelchair floorball is played with exactly the same rules as "regular" floorball. Players use the same stick and ball, and goaltenders are also allowed to play.
The first ever IFF-sanctioned wheelchair floorball matches were played between the men's teams of the Czech Republic and Sweden, during the 2008 Men's World Floorball Championships in Prague, Czech Republic.
In addition to this, there is also an electric wheelchair variation.
In addition to the World Floorball Championships, there are other IFF Events for club teams such as the Champions Cup which is for the national competition winners from the Top-4 ranked nations, and the EuroFloorball Cup for the national competition winners from the 5th and lower ranked nationsl. There are also many international floorball club competitions.
Asia Pacific Floorball Championship 
The Asia Pacific Floorball Championships are played every single year in Australia, Singapore, or Japan. The event was created by the Singapore Floorball Association together with the cooperation of the Asia Oceania Floorball Confederation (AOFC). Members of the AOFC get together during this tournament to play for the Asia Pacific Floorball Championship every year. The most recent champions are Japan.
As of 2010, the Asia Pacific Floorball Championship is also the qualifying tournament for the World Floorball Championships.
Canada Cup 
The Canada Cup is an international club tournament that is held every year in Toronto, Canada. It is the largest floorball club tournament outside of Europe, and attracts 55+ clubs from worldwide, every year. The winners of the 2010 tournament were Toronto's Salming Vikings floorball club.
USA Cup 
NAFC - North American Floorball Championship 
The NAFC - North American Floorball Championship is an international club tournament series currently including three tournaments: Canada Cup, Falls floorball classic and USA Cup. Teams must attend at least one tournament in Canada and one in the United States with a roster that is made up of at least 50% of the same players and using the same club name to be eligible.
Czech Open 
The world's largest club team tournament, the Czech Open is a traditional summer tournament held in Prague, Czech Republic. It is famous not only for its on-court activities, but also for those off-court. The tournament attracts 200+ clubs every year from 20 different countries. The most recent champions of the prestigious Czech Open are Sweden's Pixbo Wallenstam IBK and IBK Dalen.
Champions Cup 
The Champions Cup was played for the first time in 2011. It is now the premier IFF event for Men's and Women's Club teams. The national championship winners from the Top-4 ranked nations receive automatic qualification, while the remaining two spots are made up by a team nominated by the Local Event organiser and the winner of the previous year's EuroFloorball Cup.
In 2011, the winners were Men: SSV Helsinki (Finland) and Women: IF Djurgårdens IBF (Sweden).
EuroFloorball Cup 
The EuroFloorball Cup (formerly European Cup) is an IFF-organised club event for both men's and women's teams. It has taken place every single year since 1993, and in 2000 it changed its format to a 2-year event (i.e. 2000–01). In 2008, the tournament switched back to its one-year format. In 2011 it underwent another change when the Champions Cup was introduced for the first time.
The EuroFloorball Cup (EFC) is now for the national competition winners from the 5th and lower ranked nations. Qualification can be made via a number of processes. Firstly, the teams from the 5th, 6th & 7th ranked nations receive automatic qualification. A team nominated by the local event organiser also gets automatic qualification, and then the last two spots are determined by qualification tournaments.
The winner of the EFC qualifies to play in the Champions Cup the following year. The reigning EuroFloorball Cup Champions as of October 2011, are Men: RTU/Inspecta (Latvia)and Women: RSU/Runway (Latvia).
See also 
- , IFF - History in short
- , IFF Receives International Olympic Committee Recognition
- , Floorball receives recognition by the Special Olympics
- , IFF - Organization
- , WFC new system
- , Floorball U: No Limits — New World Record
- , IFF Receives More Recognition!
- , Champions Cup 2011
- , EuroFloorball Cup 2011
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