Tabletop football is a class of tabletop game simulating association football (soccer), either of the codes of rugby, or some other form of football such as American football or Australian-rules football. The games employ miniature figures of players on a bounded playing board or table that looks like a football pitch (field).
- The player figures may each be on a weighted or magnetic base, so that one can be flicked across the flat field to strike the ball (which may actually be a disc or a non-spherical object similar to polyhedral dice) and drive it to the goal between the opposing player's figures. Each player's goalkeeper (in forms of football with that role) is independently movable on a stick, usually in an arc but sometimes in a straight slot, to block incoming shots. Subbuteo is the best-known brand of this sort of game, using tiny models of human players. A competitive sport in its own right, sports table football, has developed around this style of game equipment. A variation among the movable-piece games has figures whose heads can be pressed down to fire a spring-loaded kick with a moving leg. Button football uses colored disks instead of figurines; game play is similar to that of carrom and various related games with a disk-flicking action but without a team-sports theme.
- Model figures may be attached to the board with springs or magnets, and flicked with a forefinger to "kick" the ball without moving away from their fixed positions. The board is indented around each figure so that the ball will always roll into a flickable position. The goalie may be independently movable in a slot or on a stick.
- For gridiron forms of football, a ball-carrying figure may be moved magnetically down-field, with the player trying to dodge the controlled or randomly-moving figures of the opposing player's "team".
- Unrelated except in spirit, table football (also known as foosball or table soccer) is an in-table rather than on-table game, featuring player figures fixed on turning rods.
Inspired by home-made games involving children flicking marbles, bits of paper (as in paper football), coins and other discs (as in penny football and early button football), and other objects with their fingers to crudely simulate team sports, tabletop football games have been developed and released in commercially available packages under various trademarked titles over many decades. The earliest was Newfooty in 1929, and this style of game was popularised much further by Subbuteo in 1946 (later also available to simulate non-football sports like cricket and various forms of hockey), and in franchise-branded versions like Lego Soccer in 2000.
As a competitive activity – something of a sport in its own right – tabletop association football with freely movable figures on weighted bases is known as sports table football, played under rules published by the Federation of International Sports Table Football (FISTF), with an annual world cup competition since 1993, hosted in a rotating fashion in one of the countries with a national FISTF-affiliated league. Though originally begun with Subbuteo-brand equipment, many specialist companies now produce game pieces for serious players.
- "Table Soccer". BoardGameGeek. December 2017. Illustrates various 1965 and later non-Subbuteo models by British, Portuguese, and Swedish manufacturers including Alga, J & L Randall, Majora, U Group Holdings, United Toys, and Waddington's Games, and under various names including Table Soccer, Cup Final, Futebol de Mesa ('Table Football'), Cup Fotboll, and Ralf Edström Fotboll.
- "Pilkarzyki" [Football]. Bufet PRL (in Polish). April 2017. Archived from the original on 26 December 2017. Retrieved 26 December 2017. Provides examples of several Polish-made implementation of the fixed-figures-on-springs type of game (a plastic one, named Football, from the company Przetwórstwo Tworzyw Sztucznych i Zabawkarstwo, and a metal one, Piłka Nożna ('Football'), from Zakłady Przemysłu Maszynowego Leśnictwa Krakpol in Krakow. Also illustrates a German game, Fussball Spiel ('Football Game') by VEB Plastverarbeitung Hedersleben, with movable pieces with actual kicking feet; it uses a ball that is not a sphere but a cuboctahedron, to limit rolling distance and bring it to a firm stop even if the table is not perfectly level.
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