Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Another sad day for international table football

On May 31st, 2011 FISTF published a statement with several decisions about the situation of the game in Greece. The statement was surprinsingly adding the following announcement:
"The BoD decided to expressly declare that the players that will participate to the activities (i.e. tournaments, active membership, etc.) of other Federations that:
- have the same goals of FISTF, are in conflict with FISTF or try to divide the Table Soccer movement.
will be disqualified for three years to all FISTF international competitions."

Of course, a lot of reactions came up on different forums, in particular the Subbuteo New Forum. "I am speechless", commented Rasmus Lund (Denmark). "Shame! It is what I feel reading the decision text. It is the FISTF's darkest day", added Luis Filipe Horta (Portugal).

Fortunately, some people didn't lose their sense of humor. Janus Gersie, the chairman of the german association, commented "Dear all, don't worry. Regarding WASPA there is no need to worry: WASPA doesn't have the same goals ; WASPA is not in conflict with FISTF ; WASPA is not trying to divide the tablesoccer movement. So I really don't know to which federation Piero is refering to."

Diederik Boyen, a belgian player living in Portugal, seemed to be very angry with the statement: "If I'm able to take part on a WASPA tournement I will! And if FISTF feels the need to ban for that? Go ahead!"

Vesa Kouvonkorpi (Finland) seemed to be surprised: "Apart from being clearly against the statutes, I think, it is another sign of people gone mad with power, and who are afraid of losing it. I will suggest to my association that we will ask others about the interest of asking (yet another) EGM. Another possibility is to just start working for another federation. Sad and unbelievable."

Simon Hutchinson, the organizer of the very first WASPA tournament held last month in California, made a clear comment about the FISTF statement: "Who cares about how many matches anyone has played in a FISTF tournament? I don't think anyone does outside of the FISTF BoD. A world wide body should be trying to get as many people as possible playing the game of Subbuteo. Not saying that Subbuteo outside of their tournaments does not exist. I have only played 4 games in FISTF tournaments, & 756 games in competitions with my club. Which of those numbers show that I am a committed Subbuteo player? All of this makes me happy that I am now a FISTF outlaw."

Hutschinson later added: "I think this thread shows that FISTF does not care for Subbuteo at the "grassroots" level. Looking from afar it appears to many of us outside of Europe that FISTF is only interested in organizing big tournaments in a few countries in Europe with hundreds of players. What about the isolated players playing the game in other countries and continents? Should they not be encouraged to join the world wide Subbuteo family. FISTF does not seem interested in doing that, & appears to be hostile to that. This is why WASPA will succeed."

Even Mike Parnaby, the chairman of the english association, wanted to make clear the statement is silly: "I cannot believe that I may be banned from the game I have played for over 35 years, because I do not toe the line and play the type of tournament that FISTF wants me to. In England, we have tournaments that are FISTF, retro, TSPA (Big Ball) and it is possible that a WASPA event will take place too. On top of that clubs play their own rules. I am sure this happens in every country. The current BOD needs to understand that players want to play whatever code they want without the threat of being banned. What happens if I play Table Football (the game in pubs with the players on rotating rods). They have a similar structure to FISTF so would this code of table football be in conflict with FISTF's ideals? Like Simon says, FISTF should be trying to get more players into the game, not alienating those it does have. Those players who play other codes, should not be banned, they should be encouraged to play FISTF events and made welcome. I hate being negative of the forums, but this decision is one more nail in the FISTF coffin."

Parnaby alsso added that "Many smaller countries are feeling alienated now. Subbuteo (Table Football) is played all over the world, not just in Italy, Spain, Malta, Greece etc. All countries should be encouraged. As for WASPA, I am not sure if it will succeed or not. All I can say, from my own point of view, is that as politics have become more and more 'important' within FISTF, the whole organisation seems to have lost its way. If WASPA can be a less political animal where players play for the love of the game, and not because of some sort of power trip, then maybe it will become a force. I do not think anyone wants the game to disintegrate into factions. I hope it doesn't and I hope that FISTF can find a way forward based on getting the basics right so that all players, where ever they are, are proud to be a part of a thriving and respected world governing body. Maybe I am dreaming, yes, it appears I am."

At the same time, Adrian Ritoridis contacted WASPA to enroll his school Subbuteo Club. The club is called Nottingham Academicals SC and has a membership of 33 players, all under the ages of 18. Adrian wishes to organise his school's league and all other school competitions under the auspices of WASPA.

This long thread confirms a huge majority of players disagree with the FISTF decision. Despite the fact it's understandable to say the table football community should not be divided, a lot of people seem to have forgotten that some Italians said a few months ago they were going to start a "Mediterranean association" if they lost the FISTF elections. Rules seem to be different fo some people...

Fortunately and hopefully, this decision will only help to create a stronger future for WASPA.