Foosball Fun Facts and History: Things You Did Not Know Before

Anyone who has ever played foosball knows that this game can be very addictive.

It isn’t just a matter of passing the time, though.

Foosball is a very involving game which engages not only your physical agility but your mental capacity as well. 

Contrary to popular belief, this is a game of strategy and not one of chance.

A player, therefore, has to make plenty of calculations as they try to figure out which move will work best for their game.

Besides the gameplay, just how much do you know about this fascinating and potentially-addictive game?

For instance, did you know that foosball is considered as being both a game and a sport?

Eight Foosball Fun Facts To Discover

Fact 1#

Foosball is a table-top game which goes by very many names in different regions of the world.

These include table football, table soccer, footzy, kicker, biliardino and babyfoos.

The name “foosball” itself comes from “Fussball” which is the German word for football.

Fact 2#

Many inventors lay claim to having invented the game of foosball. Among these is a Spaniard who claims that the paperwork for the patent got lost.

Then there is a French man who insists that he created the game as a means of entertaining his grandkids during winter. 

Neither of the two gets any credit for having invented the game. Despite claims that the game existed as far back as the 1880s, full credit goes to Harold Searles Thorton, a British man who patented the foosball table in 1921.

Thorton patented a game which involved men kicking a ball while moving on rods. So, whether or not he is the original inventor of foosball, his idea looked and operated just like the beloved game we know today.

Fact 3#

How fast do you think a foosball ball moves? 10km/h? Maybe 30 km/h when using faster waxes? Well, the ball used in foosball can move at alarmingly high speeds, especially if one is using the fastest wax. 

In tournaments, expert players have managed to move balls at speeds as high as 56km/h (35 mph).

A ball can move so fast that it appears a blur as it zooms across the table. Of course, such speeds are only for expert players.

Beginners are better off with much slower balls.

Fact 4#

Foosball can be quite addictive, and it is quite common to spend an entire day playing away. Well, for how long do you suppose you can play the game non-stop? An hour? Maybe two?

Well, the longest foosball game in history lasted for a record 61 hours and 17 minutes. Just so we are clear, that is the equivalent of two and a half days. It was a doubles game taking place in Innsbruck, Austria.

The players started playing on 29th August and the game ended on 1st September 2012. How impressive is that?

Fact 5#

Foosball tables, especially the longer ones, can be quite luxurious furniture pieces going for a fortune.

Would you be willing to spend $5,000 on a foosball table? What kind of foosball table would you expect to find in a palace?

Assuming, of course, that royals play such ‘ordinary’ games in the first place. 

The highest-priced foosball table in the world is the “11- The Beautiful Game”, and it goes for a whopping $68,000. “The Opus” follows next with a price tag of $34,000 making it the world’s second most expensive foosball table.

Fact 6#

On the other hand, the longest foosball table ever made was fabricated in Turin, Italy in 2015. The table measured a staggering 121.40m long, and it is designed to hold 424 players. 

Fact 7#

Once upon a time in the 1970s, foosball became so popular that it was featured in Sports Illustrated!

Yes, there was a time when foosball became truly popular around the world, and foosball tables could be found everywhere.

Well, what then led to its decline? Pac-Man.

Remember the old classic game of Pac-Man? Remember how much fun it was munching away on Pac-Dots? Well, that’s what consumed the popularity of foosball. People moved to arcade games, and the foosball tables lay abandoned. 

Fact 8#

At the peak of its popularity though, foosball took the world by storm. Professional leagues were forms as early as the 1950s, and in 1978, the highest every tournament prize was awarded, which was a sum of one million dollars. This was during the 1978 World Championships.

When Was the First Foosball Table Made?

The history of foosball is mired in confusion. This is because despite the patent being awarded to Harold Searles Thornton in 1923, the game had simultaneously gained popularity in various parts of Europe in the 1880s and ’90s.

So, when the first-ever foosball table was made cannot be determined with certainty. 

However, the first commercial foosball table to land on American soil did so in 1962, and this was courtesy of Lawrence Patterson.

Upon seeing the widespread popularity of the sport in Europe, Patterson had the table manufactured in Bavaria to his specifications.

He then imported the table into the US and trademarked the name “foosball” in both America and Canada.

Where Did the Name Foosball Come From?

The popular game of football is what inspired foosball.

Therefore, it is not surprising that the name “foosball” comes from “Fußball”, which is the German word for football. Fußball or Fussball is pronounced precisely like foosball.

Interestingly, the Germans do not call this game foosball. To them, table soccer is called “Tischfußball” which directly translates to table football.

Besides “foosball”, table soccer goes by different names in various countries. For instance, the game is called langirt in Turkey, csocso in Hungary and jouer au baby-foot in France. 

Who Invented the Foosball Table?

Harold Searles Thorton registered the first confirmed patent for a foosball table, and his patent was granted in 1923.

So how is it that foosball tables had been in existence in Europe much earlier than the 1900s?

Well, this murky history is the precise reason why the history of foosball cannot be traced back accurately. However, Thorton does hold the patent. 

He claimed to have gotten the idea from a box of matched and with a little creativity, he managed to replicate a miniature version of the game he loved so much – football.

Besides Thorton, two other men claim to have invented the game. 

He first is a Frenchman, Lucien Rosengart. Rosengart was a prominent automotive engineer, and it is said that he invented the foosball table to keep his large family entertained during winters.  

The other is a Spaniard, Alejandro Finisterre. Finisterre was a writer, an artist and an anarchist. Following an injury, he is said to have invented foosball after the realization that he wouldn’t get to play football ever again. 

Is Foosball an Olympic Sport?

Foosball is a sport, but it isn’t an Olympic sport as of yet.

However, several parties have been pushing for the move, and it is speculated that the International Olympic Committee just might cave pretty soon.

In 2017, the International Sports Federations granted observer status to the International Table Soccer Federation, and this is often the first step toward joining an Olympic program.

Hey, if skateboarding is joining the Tokyo 2020 Olympic program, then foosball couldn’t be too far behind. 

What Is A Foosball Made Of?

There are four types of foosball balls in the market: cork, smooth, textured and traditional foosball balls. 

Traditional foosball balls are made from hard plastic, and they have the indented black and white soccer ball design. Smooth balls are also made from hard plastic, but they do not feature the black and white indents. 

Cork balls, just as the name suggests, are made from cork. Lastly, textured balls are manufactured from a unique urethane compound.

What Size Is A Foosball Ball?

Foosball tables vary in size and so likewise, the balls also come in multiple weights and sizes. The popular standard balls have a diameter of between 34.5mm and 36mm. 

Smaller balls for smaller foosball tables could have a diameter measuring between 31.75mm and 32mm. 

There are even balls bigger than 38mm in diameter. These are regulation size balls, and they are popularly used in tournament play.

The weight of a particular ball will vary depending on the materials it is made from.

Final Words

Playing foosball is a great way to work on your hand-eye coordination, not to mention it also keeps the whole body active.

Whether playing recreationally or competitively, anyone can benefit from the numerous perks which come with playing foosball.

Besides isn’t it fascinating that a game with such a rich history is still as relevant today as it was over 100 years ago? 

If you have any cool facts about foosball, please share them in a comment below.

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