The History of Foosball

The History of Foosball

Foosball is an interesting game. It’s almost like soccer, except it’s played on a table. And you don’t have to run! 

Instead, the players’ manipulate rows of figures on a field. Movements are restricted to side-to-side and rotating flips. Despite these limitations, anyone who has ever played foosball knows it can be an intense (and frustrating) game of skill. 

So, where did foosball come from? This article will take you through the history of foosball and answer a few other common questions about the game’s origins.

When was Foosball Invented?

We’re not exactly sure when the game was first invented. During the 1880s and 1890s, it’s believed that different variations of foosball were being played all around Europe. Some other common names for foosball include:

  • Table soccer/football
  • Fussball
  • Futbolin
  • Kicker
  • Babyfoot

There’s a lot of misconceptions and mystery surrounding the exact origins of foosball. 

Foosball’s Mysterious Origins

Some people credit foosball to Lucien Rosengart, a French automobile engineer that came up with the game in the 1930s as a way to keep his grandkids entertained during the winter.

Meanwhile, Alexandre de Finesterre is said to have invented foosball when he was recovering from injuries he sustained during a bombing raid in the Spanish Civil War.

The one thing we do know is that the original patent for the foosball game we all know and love was issued in the 1920s.

Who Invented Foosball?

We don’t really know who invented the game. But foosball’s original patent went to Harold Searles Thornton — a soccer fan from the U.K.

It’s believed that he made a pocket-sized version of foosball out of a matchbox and matches before finalizing the version we play today.

Harold’s uncle, Louis P. Thornton, paid a visit and then brought foosball back to the U.S. with him. In the U.S., foosball fell into obscurity until years later after WWII ended.

Foosball’s Rise In Popularity

Foosball first started to gain popularity in Belgium in the 1950s. It didn’t become well known in America until the 1960s and 1970s. Two Americans who are tied into foosball history are Larry Patterson and E. Lee Peppard. 

Patterson is credited for creating coin operated foosball tables in the U.S. and selling thousands of foosball machines as well as some foosball franchises. 

Peppard is a bar owner who set up high-stakes foosball games with large monetary awards. Promoting his own table, he held tournaments in 32 different cities, helping to grow the game. 

American foosball tournaments peaked in 1978 with the International Table Soccer Championships (ITSC) and its $1 million prize.

As we entered the 1980s, foosball lost some of its popularity to arcade games like Pac-Man, Defender, Asteroids, and Donkey Kong. However, foosball remains a popular way to generate extra revenue and customer engagement at arcades, bars, restaurants, and other entertainment venues.

The First Foosball Leagues Are Created

Belgium started the first leagues in the 1950s. But the European Table Soccer Union (ETSU) was formed in 1976, and a number of countries competed for the European Cup. 

Each country that plays has their preferred foosball brand. And each brand differs when it comes to the size of the handles, the shape of the players, and the material the ball’s made from. Plus, different countries have different rules and styles of play.

In 2003, the U.S. joined the International Table Soccer Federation, which has championships every year in France.

Where Can You Buy A Foosball Table?

Even though the history of foosball can get a bit confusing at times, the game itself is a lot of fun to play. If you’re looking for a foosball table, M&P Amusement has a number of coin operated and home foosball tables for sale. And a foosball table makes for a great game room gift!

Not sure what model is best for your home or business? No problem! Give us a call at (717) 887-5293 for more information.

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