Pergamino (Argentina) – Football-mad Argentines in the country’s farm belt city of Pergamino have devised a clever way to keep playing while avoiding risk of spreading COVID-19.
They use a human foosball pitch with zones for each player to avoid physical contact.
Foosball is the American corruption of fussball (pronounced the same), the German word for football-literally —- foot plus ball.
While the sport has the more formal name of table soccer, to the American players who love it, it’s foosball, or just foos.
Now, the innovative approach has captured the imagination in the South American nation famed for producing football legends Lionel Messi and Diego Maradona.
This is in the midst of the fact that the country has seen cases of the novel coronavirus spike in recent weeks.
The game, known locally as “metegol humano” divides the pitch into rectangular zones with while lines limiting where a player can move —- helping to enforce social distancing.
But it limits slide tackles or pitch-length dribbles with the ball.
“It’s intended for two teams of five players who can run around maintaining distance and without the possibility of touching,” said Gustavo Cuiffo, a creator of the project.
“Limits are set by the rectangles each team occupies.”
“They are fixed positions like a goalkeeper, a defender, a midfielder and two forwards,” added the owner of the Play Fútbol club.
Seen from above, the demarcated court resembles a large foosball table —– though with real people and no swivel handles.
Argentina has recorded over 75,000 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus and around 1,500 deaths linked to the virus.
The government has had to reinforce lockdown measures in and around capital city Buenos Aires after a recent spike in cases.
In Pergamino some restrictions have been eased, but football fans are having to do without the country’s football league which has been halted, while public pitches have been long closed.
“It is the first time I have kicked in several months,” said Gustavo Santapaola, who took part in a match at the Play Fútbol ground. “I honestly tell you, I am excited.”
Foosball, as it is known in North America, is the same as table football or table soccer, and it is a table-top game that is loosely based on football.
The aim of the game is to move the ball into the opponent’s goal by manipulating rods which have figures attached.