A table, equipped with sides, through which run rotating bars equipped with small moulded players, whose aim is to kick a ball into the goal. This is in brief the appearance and operation of the football table, known in Italy also as Biliardino and Calcetto.
The Football table was born in Europe in the period between the two World Wars, but – to date – nobody knows who invented it. Or, better, France, Germany and Great Britain contend their primacy with three possible inventors. In fact, we know that in 1925 a certain Harold Sea Thornton filed the patent for an “apparatus for playing a football game”, but it was not the only patent registered in Europe.
In Italy the first foosball table was built in Poggibonsi, Tuscany, in 1937. The first industrial production of table football dates back to 1947, when Marcel Zosso, in Marseilles, started marketing the “calcetto” we know today, collecting an immediate success, so much as to push the entrepreneur to start the first exports, reaching Italy in 1949.
The following year, the Garlando family started its production of “calcetti”, starting a tradition that has reached the present day. In Italy the term Calcio balilla is linked to a young patriot, Giovan Battista Perasso, known as Balilla. But the name of this game varies greatly depending on the regions. In addition to calcio balilla, table football and soccer, in fact, it has been and is also called fubalino, pincanello, subotto …
In the ’50s, there was a boom in popularity of the Football table even in the U.S.A., where a great influence was exerted by American soldiers returning from the war to European territory. And, in a short time, it entered the sporting disciplines, and tournaments were organized and, in 1998, a World Cup was held in Paris. Today, this sport is represented by the International Table Soccer Federation which, starting from the year of its foundation in 2002, now includes 50 affiliated nations.
The football tables have differences and styles related to the country in which they are produced. Chinese style has also been added to French, American, Italian and Belgian styles. However, there are certain common points for all tables: 110/120 cm long, 65/72 cm wide, four “ramps” placed in the four corners to avoid “dead spots” for the ball. Each team has four rows of players, separated by red and blue, divided into 3 attackers, 5 midfielders, 2 defenders and a goalkeeper.
Then there are different specialties and rules, which change from nation to nation. The shots, movements and maneuvers, among other things, are numerous, and give life to authentic technical repertoires, which, however, are not allowed by every single Federation. These differences generate different compatibility problems between players from different countries, since everyone trains in a certain way, and is used to using or not using certain shots or game techniques.