Brazil played Japan in a beach soccer charity on Copacabana beach before last month’s 2014 draw (Getty)

(WFI) Rio 2016 president Carlos Nuzman tells INSIDER that he welcomes FIFA president Sepp Blatter’s push to get beach soccer on the Olympic programme, saying it would be one of the highlights of the Games.

Blatter and Brazil 2014 chief Ricardo Teixeira proposed the inclusion of the Brazilian sport made famous on the Copacabana and Ipanema beaches of Rio when they met with Nuzman ahead of the World Cup qualifying draw in the city on July 30.

Blatter attended a charity beach soccer match that day between Brazil and Japan.

Teixeira is head of FIFA’s Futsal and Beach Soccer Committee and keen to grow the sport worldwide.

Nuzman welcomed the beach soccer concept and said he was favourable to bringing the discipline into the 2016 Games if FIFA can win IOC approval.

“It’s a great idea. If realised, I’m sure that football and the fans only can win, and that beach soccer will be one of the biggest attractions in Rio 2016,” Nuzman told INSIDER.

The Olympic programme will be reviewed after the London 2012 Games. During the evaluation process by the IOC’s programme commission, beach soccer could be considered for inclusion for Rio 2016. If it gains the approval of the IOC Executive Board, it would go to a vote at the IOC Session convening in Buenos Aires in 2013.

Despite Blatter’s discussions with Nuzman, no proposal has yet been made to the IOC.

“We have not received any formal request from FIFA regarding beach football,” an IOC spokesman told ATR.

A proposal to take the idea to the IOC may go before the Oct. 20 to 21 FIFA Executive Committee meeting in Zurich.

FIFA will stage its next Beach Soccer World Cup in Ravenna, Italy Sept. 1 to 11.

World football’s governing body has spent recent months raising the sport’s profile.

Over the summer, a total of 12 training courses were held across five confederations, while the 2011 Euro Beach Soccer League also attracted good crowds at host cities across Europe including Bern, Berlin, Ravenna and Moscow.

The 2011 Beach Soccer World Cup is the sixth edition of the tournament to be overseen by FIFA since the sport became part of the federation’s family.

By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson

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