Patents for similar table games date back as early as the 1890s in Spain. However, the origins of Table Football (aka “Foosball) date to 1921, when Harold Searles Thornton from the United Kingdom patented the game as “Apparatus for playing a game of table football”.
Cincinnati’s Lawrence Patterson officially introduced the game to America, buying the rights to the term “Foosball” and selling the coin-operated machines as franchise operations during the 1970’s.
Two or four players can play this classic non-electric game, and to do it well, a great deal of skill and timing is required.
Players twist and pull several horizontal rods which control a line of soccer players, who then try to kick a ball into the goal posts situated at each end of the rectangular table.
Spinning the rods is considered a big no-no, but a well-aimed flick of the wrist is appreciated as an art.
There are intricately choreographed passes and a bible of beloved trick shots, just as there are in a real soccer match. Strategy, ball control and patience – that’s the way goals are scored.
Today, Table Football is played all over the world, and there are tournaments in many countries. In 2002, the International Table Soccer Federation (ITSF) was established in France with the mission of promoting the game.
The ITSF acts as an organising sports body, regulating international competitions and establishing the game with the International Olympic Committee and General Association of International Sport Federation.