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Is Foosball a Sport? (Sport or Bar Game – Decided!)

I’m sure we all know of a “sport” that you’d happily argue should not be considered as a sport. The avid players will take offense and defend the chosen pursuit and in recent years, one particular game to cause dispute over classification is foosball. 

So, is foosball a sport? By the dictionary classification of the term sport, foosball can be considered a sport because it involves a level of physical skill and competition that can be played at a professional level or at an amateur level as a hobby. 

I’m sure not everyone reading this is going to agree with the above statement so read on to find out whether or not foosball deserves to be considered a sport and see if you agree or disagree with the reasoning behind it. 

Spoiler – We aren’t trying to change your mind and this is just an opinion piece for fun, if you do have any solid evidence to say whether foosball should/shouldn’t be classed as a sport then feel free to get in touch! 

Is Foosball a Sport or Not?

It’s hard to say outright that Foosball isn’t a sport, but the debate rages on as it is hard to hold a candle to larger-scale competitive sports like Soccer, Baseball, or Hockey. It meets all the criteria to be considered a spot as laid out below.

Foosball checks all the boxes needed when defining a sport: 

  • Requires practice of repetitive movements to increase skills
  • Opponents try to score goals on each other to claim victory
  • Muscle movement
  • Hand-eye coordination 
  • Teamwork when played in pairs

These points are all valid according to the dictionary definition of the word sport which is:

“A game, competition, or activity needing physical effort and skill that is played or done according to rules, for enjoyment and/or as a job”

It’s akin, but not quite the same, as trying to tell a golfer that he is not an athlete. Foosball requires hours of practice, strategy, and a particular skill set that can only be achieved by a quick-minded and highly reflexive individual.

What is the History of Foosball?

The exact origins of Foosball are unknown as there are many claims as to who invented the game. It is widely believed a man named Harold Searles Thornton is the official creator of Foosball as he has the first patent dating back to 1932. 

Like most table games, foosball was born out of emulating outdoor games. As Croquet is to Billiards; Soccer is to Foosball.

It didn’t gain popularity in mainstream culture until around 1950 when it began showing up in bars, pubs, and coffee shops in Belgium. From a pub game to a professional league hosting tournaments, 1976 saw the inception of the European Table Soccer Union.

From there, Foosball tables became a mainstay in family homes and was on its way to a much broader national stage.

What’s in a Name?

If you have ever referenced Soccer in the UK or talked about NFL highlights to someone from Europe or South America, I’m sure you know the confusion that comes from the cross-pollination of Futbol, Football, and Soccer. Why not add another variation of these similarly-named sports to the mix?

The name Foosball has German origins as they call the game of Soccer, FuBball. The “B” in the name is pronounced like a double “S”. 

To minimize some confusion; in the UK, it is mainly called Table Football, Eastern Europe it is known as Kicker, and leave it to the French to add some finesse as they call it Babyfoot.

Will Foosball be an Olympic Sport?

Foosball enthusiasts have been attempting to enter the game into the Olympics for a few years now. The first step in the process for being a recognized sport in the Olympics is to gain Observer Status.

This lasts for two years and allows the applicants to help resolve disputes within the internal committees, establish governance, and provide feedback during committee hearings. Unfortunately, Foosball was not accepted as an Olympic sport for 2020 after gaining Observer Status in 2017. Other sports that are trying to insert themselves as legitimate Olympics sports are Pole Dancing and Poker. 

So, not bad company to keep, and consideration for the Olympics is a strong sign that foosball can definitely be considered a sport – even if it’s not yet been accepted into the Olympics!

Are There Foosball Championships?

Numerous Foosball competitions and tournaments are being played around the world. Ranging from local regional matches, all the way to the upper echelon of country champions competing for international glory and prize money.

The International Table Soccer Federation (ITSF) annually hosts the Table Soccer World Cup in Nantes, France. Similar to FIFA’s world cup each player, or doubles team, represents their country and battles it out following match play rules and format. 

The tournament consists of over 500 players from 30 different countries. Safe to say any game that attracts that many high-level competitors globally can officially be called a sport.

North America’s answer to the ITSF World Cup is the Tornado Table Soccer World Championship. The matches are played exclusively on Tornado brand Foosball tables which are considered some of the best tables to play on it in the world. 

Contrary to European-made tables which are much softer, Tornado tables are made of harder wood and favor aggressive and faster play. Not only is this tournament fast-paced and exciting, but the prize money is also a solid six-figure pay-day for the last player standing. 

What Are The Different Table Types?

For each brand and type of table, there is a tournament that strictly caters to the players that use each of them. The reasoning is that most players get used to the specific mechanics, wood surface, and fluid movement. This levels the playing field and allows the champion full bragging rights without any excuses from their opponents.

The top 3 Foosball tables are:

  • Tornado
  • Warrior
  • Hathaway

The differing factors in a beginner table versus an elite level competition are weight, playing surface wood type, solid or telescopic rods, and overall quality of play the table provides. 


After spinning a ball around a table and finding you’re either quite good at it – or incredibly bad – something you might be wondering is whether or not foosball is a sport? 

Under a dictionary definition, foosball can be considered a sport because it has the following criteria present:

  1. It’s an activity needing skill or physical attributes
  2. It is played following a strict set of rules
  3. It can be played professionally or for fun as a hobby

While we know it’s not the most athletic option under sporting classifications, there is undoubtedly a level of skill, competition, and sporting-like attributes that make it difficult to argue against foosball being classed as a sport

The term game or sport can be used interchangeably when it comes to foosball but at the end of the day, any “game” that has been accepted for review and consideration to be included in the Olympics is surely enough to justify it being classed as a sport by society as a whole!