Table Soccer is a table-top game very loosely based on football. The game also goes by the names of Table Football and Foosball (mainly in North America). It often features in many homes as a family game. The object is to move the ball into the opponent’s goal by moving rods that have figures attached. Although the rules may vary from household to household, there is a competitive level of table soccer that is played according to a unified code. The sport also has its own world governing body, the International Table Soccer Federation (ITSF) established in 2002, based in Nantes, France. There are currently nearly thirty member nations and the role of ITSF is to coordinate the growth, administration and regulation of the sport through each of the national member federations. This also includes the ITFS Training Centres program. The Federation works very closely with the World Anti-doping Association (WADA).
When it comes to the biggest competitions, ITSF sanctions several major international tournaments for all age groups. It includes the five annual World Championship Series. The biggest of these events is the World Cup, which is a national team tournament that takes place every year. The best table soccer players from over 40 nations convene for the world titles. Apart from continuing to work very closely with the current member nations, ITSF is committed in establishing the sport within developing nations in order to provide accessibility to all.
The first patent for foosball was done in 1921 by Harold Searles Thornton, from the United Kingdom. Previously, patents were filed across Europe going back as far as the 1890s. As a result of the popularity of football across Europe, the goal for Harold was to invent a game people could play in their homes. Frenchman Lucien Rosengart came up with the game of table soccer in the 1930s, while looking for something for his grandchildren to do during the winter months. In Madrid Alejandro Finisterre invented table football during the Spanish Civil War in 1937. These three inventors all contributed to the game eventually being brought to the States by Lawrence Patterson in the 1950s. Twenty years later it could be played in bars and pool halls across the country.
A typical table is about 4 ft by 2 ft and normally contains eight rows of ‘foos men’ made from plastic, metal or wood. A game can have two opponents or a team of two. Players manipulate the rods to control the figures. The ball can be held up, passed or kicked. There are five official ITSF table brands that can be used for World Cups or World Championships. The Federation also oversees a World Tour that has recently expanded to Asian nations. The ultimate objective is to establish the sport for inclusion within the Olympic program.