What is Foosball?
A tabletop version of soccer in which players turn rods fixed on top of a playing box and attached to miniature figures of players, in order to flick the ball and strike it toward the goal.
The most common English names are table football, footzy, bar football and foosball, though table soccer is also used Among French-style players it is known as baby-foot The name foosball is a loose transliteration of the German word “Fußball”, which itself means simply football.
In Germany and in Russia the game is most often called Kicker. In Italy the most used names are biliardino and calcio balilla. In Hungary it is called csocsó. Through Brazilian regions, it has received several names, like totó, pebolim or fla-flu. In Spain the game is called futbolín. In Chile the game is known as taca taca. In Argentina, table football is known as metegol. In Guatemala, the game is called futillo. In Perú the game is known as fulbito de mesa or “futbolín”. In other Latin American countries, it is known as canchitas or futbolito. In Bulgaria the game is called djaga.
In Turkey the game is called Langirt. In Portugal it is called matraquilhos. In the Netherlands the game is called tafelvoetbal. In Canada it is widely known as gitoni (where a gettone or token is required to play the game), foosball and baby-foot in Quebec. In South Africa it is called Ta-Ta box. In Poland it is called pilkarzyki which means “little football players”. In Persian, it is called “football Dasti” which means hand football.
Although patents for similar games may exist from as far back as the 1890s, the game of Table Football as we know it today was first invented by Harold Searles Thornton in 1921 and patented in 1923 (UK patent no 205,991 application dated 14 October 1921 and accepted 1 November 1923.
The concept was conceived after Harold had been to a Tottenham Hotspur FC football match (he was an avid supporter) He wanted to provide a game that replicated football that could be played at home The inspiration came from a box of matches: by laying the matches across the box he had formed the basis of his game.
His uncle (United States resident Louis P Thornton, who once in Portland, Oregon) visited Harold and took the inspiration back to the USA where it was patented in 1927 (United States Patent Office No 1,615,491) The patent eventually expired.
In 2002, the International Table Soccer Federation (ITSF) was established in France with the mission of promoting the sport of Table Soccer as an organizing sports body, regulating international competitions, and establishing the game with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and General Association of International Sport Federation (GAISF).
To begin the game, the ball is served through a hole at the side of the table, or simply placed by hand at the feet of a figure in the center of the table. The initial serving side is decided with a coin toss. Players attempt to use figures mounted on rotating bars to kick the ball into the opposing goal. Expert players have been known to move balls at speeds up to 56 km/h (35 mph) in competition.
Most rules consider “OVER 360-degree shots”, or “spinning” (using the palm of the hand to swiftly spin the bar all around, instead of using wrist strokes to kick the ball with a bar-mounted figure) completely illegal. There are many rules variations – in some variations, the keeper is allowed to spin, in others as long as a goal is scored from a controlled position, rotations of the rod after striking the ball are permitted Generally, shots short of a full 360-degree rotation before (or after) striking the ball are legal Since the establishment of the ITSF, the rules have become standardized in most international competitions However since January 2012, the annual World Championships and the World Cup will permit two full 360-degree rotation.
The winner is determined when one team scores a predetermined number of goals, typically five, ten, or eleven in competition. When playing Bonzini competitions the target number of goals is seven. Rules variants also exist that enable backgammon-style betting in-game – meaning players can win by forfeit if their “double” is not accepted.
Table football tables can vary in size, but a typical table is about 120 cm (4 ft) long and 61 cm (2 ft) wide. The table usually contains 8 rows of foos men, which are plastic, metal, wooden, or sometimes carbon-fibre figures mounted on horizontal metal bars Each team of 1 or 2 human players controls 4 rows of foos men.
Table football can be played by two individuals (singles) – and also with four people (doubles), in which there are teams of two people on either side In this scenario, one player usually controls the two defensive rows and the other team member uses the midfield and attack rows In informal matches, three or four players per side are also common.
Table football is often played for fun in pubs, bars, workplaces, schools, and clubs with few rules. Table football is also played in official competitions organized by a number of national organizations, with highly evolved rules and regulations. Organized competition can be traced back to the 1940s and 1950s in Europe. But the professional tours and big money events began when the founding father of modern professional table soccer, Lee Peppard of Seattle, Washington, United States announced a “Quarter Million Dollar Tour” in 1976 Portland Oregon’s John Napa went on to win the US championship Bobby Brown (of green felt billiards), also of Portland, still holds the record for most points scored in a season with 1305. Several organizations and promoters have continued holding large purse professional table soccer events worldwide.
The ITSF now regulates International events including the annual World Championships and the World Cup The World Cup was originally intended to coincide with the FIFA World Cup, but since January 2009 it has run annually. In 2006 – the inaugural ITSF World Cup – Austria, Germany and Belgium took the Gold, Silver and Bronze respectively
A vast number of different tables exist. The table brands used at the ITSF World Championships are the “French-style” Bonzini, “American-style” Tornado, “Italian-style” Roberto Sport and Garlando and the “German-style” Tecball Other major brands often used in international competitions include Fireball, Kicker, Deutscher Meister, Rosengart, Jupiter Goldstar, Eurosoccer, Löwen-Soccer, Warrior, Lehmacher, Leonhart
Several companies have created “luxury versions” of table football tables. One of the most notable is the Opus Table created by the Elevenforty company. There was also a 7-meter table created by artist Maurizio Cattelan for a piece called Stadium. It takes 11 players to a side. Differences in the table types have great influence on the playing styles. Most tables have one goalie whose movements are restricted to the goal area. On some of these tables the goalie becomes unable to get the ball once it is stuck out of reach in the corner; others have sloped corners to return the ball to play. Other tables – notably the Tornado model – have three goalies, one in the center and one in each corner to reach the ball so sloped corners are not needed. Another major difference between table types is found in the balls, which can be made of wood (cork in the case of traditional French tables), various forms of plastic or rarely even marble and metal, varying the speed of shots a great deal, as well as the “grip” between the man and the ball and the ball and the playing surface
One of the newest additions to the foosball table family, the Fireball table, is manufactured in China In 2010 it became an officially-recognized ITSF table, approved for use in internationally-recognized competition.