Football is ‘coming home’ as World Cup finals set to be played in Tunbridge Wells

Olympian Louis Smith
TINY TOURNAMENT: The World Cup is coming home… albeit only in miniature table-top form!

The Subbuteo FISTF World Cup 2024 (Federation of International Sports Table Football) is set to be played at Tunbridge Wells Leisure Centre in September 2024.

It is the first time the tournament has been held in the birthplace of the game, although an international game between England and Belgium did take place in 1960.

The World Cup is expected to involve 32 countries, with up to 64 tables playing at any one time.

SUBBUTEO LINE-UP:  The England starting 11

England was not the only bid to host the tournament. Brazil had also pitched but withdrew its application upon learning ‘the event could be played in Tunbridge Wells, the home of the game’.

Greece had also made a bid to host the finals, but the English Subbuteo Association’s (ESA) decision to give the Games to the home of the game was ‘unanimous’, said Vice Chairman Alan Lee. The Subuteo World Cup was last held in the UK in 2012, in Manchester.

The game was invented in 1946 by Tunbridge Wells resident Peter Adolph, and early production of Subbuteo also took place in the area.

It was originally sold by mail order from his mother’s house in Langton Green but went on to become a massively popular table-top game during the 1960s, 70s and 80s.

Tunbridge Wells Borough Council (TWBC) gave full support to the ESA bid to FISTF to host the 2024 event.

The news came at the Full Council meeting on February 23, announced by the Council’s Portfolio Holder for Environment, Culture and Leisure, Cllr Jane March.

She said: “The 2024 Subbuteo World Cup will take place here in Royal Tunbridge Wells – the natural home of the game that was invented and manufactured in Langton Green.

“This will be a huge event for the town and the wider borough, and we are confident that it will reawaken and unite Subbuteo and Table Football fans from all over the world.”

She added that ‘The Story of the Wells’, one of the galleries inside the town’s new Amelia Scott cultural centre building that is opening in late April, will also feature the origins and history of Subbuteo.

By Victoria Roberts

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