The history of button soccer

The history of button soccer

Button soccer is a genuine Hungarian game. Its origins date back to the 1910s and 20s, then through generations, it has become a significant part of parents’ and grandparents’ childhood experiences. Its popularity has grown parallel to that of soccer, football fans could re-play great title-bout matches with their favourite team on the button soccer pitch. The games were initially played with coat buttons with 11 players in each team, similarly to real soccer - hence the name of the game. The teams were identified by pieces of paper stuck on the top of the buttons. The players were indicated by larger, while the ball by smaller buttons and the goals were put together out of pieces of wood. The button players were polished and knuckled with fingers.  The matches were played on simple, smooth-surfaced tables which the lines of the pitch had been drawn on. The popularity of the game has increased year by year, clubs were formed throughout the country and the idea of organizing a general championship presented itself. At the end of the 1950s, club managers were elected, the rules of the game were drawn up and the first Budapest Championship was organized. During the years, pieces were refined and specialized. The game became an official field of sport in 1989 and the official Hungarian Button Soccer Sport Association was established. In 2002, the International Association followed and the name of the game was changed from button soccer to sector football after its most characteristic rule. Nowadays, the game is played in more than 20 countries on five continents. Its biggest event is the world championship organized every four years which has always been won by the Hungarian team so far.

The most important rules of button soccer/ sector football

The rules of sector football are basically simple so the game is relatively easy to learn. They essentially correspond to those of soccer with the exception of a few.

Basic rules

The game is played by two players on a table of 120 x 180 cm which also features two goals of 5 cm height, 12 cm width and 8 cm depth. The individual equipment of a contestant is: 10 field player figures (size: maximum 5 cm in diameter and 2 cm of height) and 1 goalkeeper figure (size: maximum 5 cm in diameter and 2.5 cm of height) and a ball.

Among the rules, all soccer rules are to be found with the exception of that of offside. A match lasts 2 × 13 minutes with a two-minute break at half time. The match begins with a kick-off then the contestants may make one - one movement alternately. Moving a figure counts as a movement. During matches, the figures can be knuckled with hand, sliding them on the surface of the pitch. It is not allowed to pull or push them. During matches, lifting the figures and placing them to arbitrary positions is only allowed after a goal or a goal kick. Placing is allowed first for the player doing the kick-off or goal-kick, his opponent adapts himself by not putting his figures closer than 5 cm to the figures already placed.

The aim of the game

The aim of the game is scoring goals, which is only valid if the ball was in his opponent’s half before the contestant’ shooting at goal. Before shooting at goal, the contestants are required to indicate this intention to the opponent with the words (’goal’, ’place’ and ’shoot’, etc.) and to provide time to place the goalkeeper. Shooting at the goal may only be carried out if the opponent has indicated the placement of his goalkeeper with the words (’placed’, ’ready’ and ’shoot’, etc.)

Pass

During the game no ball conduction is allowed but players may pass the ball. A bonus step may be awarded if during field play players pass the ball closer to their own figures than to any of those of the opponent’s. In this case, it is only allowed to make a movement with the figure closest to the ball as ’he’ got the ball. Naturally, players may only pass from figure to figure until they succeed in creating a goal situation on the field of the opponent. Then the aim is no longer to pass but to shoot at goal to score.

Spot kicks

In sector football – similarly to soccer – there are goal kicks, corner kicks, free kicks, throw-ins and penalty kicks.

Foul play

It is not allowed to touch the ball with hands during field play. It is against the rules if two figures collide before or not even touching the ball. It is also considered foul play or hold-up if the defensive team blocks the shooting at goal by placing his figure between the attacking team’s figure and the ball. Foul play is to be punished with free kicks. In case of a free kick aimed at the goal, a wall of field figures may be put up 18 cm from the ball.