International Development of Futnet between 1987 and 2011

1987 – 1996

  • Stimuli for the foundation of IFTA (International Football-Tennis Association) were the demonstrations of the game by Czech emigrants which gave Mr Josef Rothenfluh (Switzerland) the idea of playing tennis over the net with the feet as a complementary practice for footballers. The founders also expected certain business opportunities (to sell the new sport to the sponsors) and the support of football associations therefore the word football was used in the name. However, it turned out that football regarded footballtennis – as the new sport was called – as competition and did not provide it any support.
  • IFTA was founded on 7 February 1987 by

Keith Mallett from UK (Sandfield international manager)

Pierluigi Gabetto from Italy (former professional footballer), manager of a near Bologne

Octavian Popescu from Romania (member of national football team / DFB coach from Sports University in Cologne)

Prof. Kranz from Germany (Osnabruck, management consultant of Pieper Wolfgang)

Rolf Wälti from Switzerland (former football star of Biel)

  • The representatives of Czechoslovakia could not take part in the foundation of IFTA because at that time there was no Czechoslovak Futnet Association, only two separate national associations – the Czech and the Slovak one – that did not have the right to contacts with foreign countries. The request to form the Czechoslovak Futnet Association, submitted twice, had not been rejected by the Czechoslovak Sports Association, but it was illegally kept in the drawer. Thanks to the foundation of IFTA, a working committee for the creation of Czechoslovak Futnet Association was set up which was allowed to establish contacts with IFTA and in 1991 Czechoslovakia became a member of IFTA.
  • In early 1990s, IFTA was enlarged by Greece, Austria, France, Brasil and Russia.
  • In 1991, first European Championships (only for men) take place in Meiringen, Switzerland (triples), Szolnok (doubles) and Kaposvar (singles), both Hungary.
  • First 10 years of IFTA are marked by the illimited power of Mr Josef Rothenfluh who also sponsored IFTA. Around 1993 Mr Peter Fáber from Slovakia became vicepresident, from 1994 technical issues were managed by Mr Vladimír Mašát from the Czech Republic. The official language was German, everything was decided by the president (except for the decisions taken by the Congress).
  • In 1994, 1st Men’s World Championship takes place in Košice, Slovakia.
  • Further development was also influenced by Czecho-Slovak disputes: Slovakia wanted to take over the two-bounce rule, the Czechs insisted on three bounces. Therefore the Czechoslovak delegate at IFTA congress around 1992 had to abstain in the voting on the rules and as a result, as of that year, one-bounce rules were adopted. Before that, in 1991, the countries organising 1st European Championships could choose the rules and both Switzerland and Hungary chose one bounce. The one-bounce rules were in force until 1996.
  • In 1996, so far the only world championship held outside Europe takes place in Maceio, Brasil.
  • Before 1997 also some non-member countries participated in the World and European Championships. Very often they were footballers or emigrants from futnet countries. For example, in 1993 European Championship there was Sweden in single, in 1994 World Championship Australia, Indian Ocean Islands, Congo, Russia, in 1996 WC Argentina and Uruguay.


1997 – 2004

  • In 1997, IFTA undergoes significant changes. English becomes the official language, IFTA is managed by an Executive Board with 5 members (the first one with A. Meyer, L. Chvalovský, P. Fáber, V. Mašát, E. Langaas), the basis for all key documents in English are laid down (statutes, rules, competition regulations and other technical documents). For any changes in the key aspects of the game (size of the court, height of the net, number of touches and bounces), a two-third majority rule is introduced in the voting.
  • In 1997, a number of changes in the rules are voted: two bounces again, cross-double is changed into traditional Czech doubles, one more touch is allowed for single.
  • IFTA loses Germany, Greece and Austria and gains Norway, Turkey, US, Croatia. Russia and Ukraine come and go several times.
  • Following a French proposal (based on the claim that they could receive more state subsidies), IFTA is renamed to FIFTA – Fédération Internationale de Footballtennis Association.
  • In 2000, 1st World Championship for Women and Juniors takes place in Košice, Slovakia. The same year Men’s World Championship is held for the first time in Czech Republic (Prostĕjov).
  • In 2003, further changes are introduced at the congress in Zagreb: return to one bounce, cross-double is added as the fourth discipline and at WCH in Opava, Czech Republic, two players from one country are allowed to participate in single.


2005 – 2008

  • In 2007, at the congress in Cavtat, Croatia, Mr Dubravko Lipnjak is elected as FIFTA president. Mr Lipnjak’s way of work is perceived by some countries as one-man rule, during his first two years in office there is no official Executive Board meeting (only with three members).
  • Eventually it is seen that one bounce is not enough for women and juniors. Therefore the congress votes to come back to two bounces and they are used at WCH in 2008 in Přerov, Czech Republic. Another change is the possibility to receive the service without a previous bounce. In 2008 the (traditional) double and cross-double are merged into one discipline.
  • The congress in Harkanyi, Hungary, in 2008 showed that in the last 20 years futnet had failed to develop, on the contrary, in the previous futnet powers it is in decline (Slovakia, Hungary) or stagnating (Romania).
  • There are difference in rules used in various countries: some play their competitions with one or two bounces (Switzerland, Slovakia, Croatia), others (Czech Republic) with two or three bounces.
  • Czech Republic has more futnet players than the rest of FIFTA countries altogether, but does not have the corresponding powers in FIFTA.


2008 – 2011

  • In 2009, 9th European Championship for Men is held in Istanbul, Turkey, and Slovakia wins gold medals in all three disciplines.
  • In 2009, 1st European Championship for Women and Juniors takes place in Oradea, Romania. It is preceded by a dispute about the number of bounces when the Romanian organisers and FIFTA representatives claim that the change in 2007 to two bounces was only an exception for 2008 World Championship in Prostĕjov while the Czech delegates claim it was a vote with general validity, in line with the minutes of the 2007 Congress. In protest against the president’s final decision to use one bounce, the Czech women’s and juniors teams do not take part in European Championship in Oradea.
  • In 2009, at the congress in Istanbul, Argentina, Catalonia, Ireland and North Cyprus are admitted as FIFTA members.
  • Late 2009 and early 2010 see a considerable increase in communication on an international level.
  • On 24 April 2010 European Futnet Association (EFTA) is founded in Marseille (France) by Switzerland, France, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Catalonia, Basque Country and Romania. In late 2010 they are joined by Denmark, England, Poland.
  • Internal divisions due to problems with FIFTA’s management and a lack of progress are becoming more serious and they reach their peak at the congress in North Cyprus in May 2010 where, among other things, FIFTA’s representatives refuse to recognise EFTA as its continental organisation. The statutes are breached in several points.
  • Long-lasting problems, reflected well by the events at the congress, led some countries to the decision to leave FIFTA and to found a new international association Union Internationale de Futnet on 16 October 2010 in Geneva, Switzerland. Of the former FIFTA countries, among UNIF founding members are France, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Catalonia, Argentina, joined by FIFTA candidates Australia and Costa Rica and other countries, namely Poland, Denmark, Malaysia, Basque Country, South Africa, US and England.
  • Futnet is adopted as the new international name of the sport.
  • At its founding meeting UNIF recognises EFTA as its continental association in Europe.
  • UNIF Laws of Futnet are adopted, the most important changes being two bounces for doubles and triples in junior’s and women’s categories. One bounce is left in all three disciplines for men and in singles for women and juniors.
  • UNIF Founding Cup is held on 4 and 5 December 2010 in Nymburk, Czech Republic.
  • In early 2011 Ukraine decides to leave FIFTA and to join UNIF and EFTA.
  • In 2011, Austria becomes a member of EFTA and UNIF.