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Footballtennis, also known as futnet (in Czech and Slovak nohejbal) is a sport originating in the 1920s in Czechoslovakia. It is a ball game that can be played indoors or outdoors in a court divided by a low net with two opposing teams (one, two or three players) who try to score a point hitting the ball with any part of their body except for the hands and making it bounce in the opponent's area in a way that makes it difficult or impossible for the other team to return it over the net.
In 1922 the members of the football club Slavia Prague started playing a game which they called football over the rope, because it was initially played over a horizontally suspended rope, which was later replaced by a net. Usually two or three players on each side could touch the ball three times (not two consecutive touches by the same player) with all parts of the body except for the arms and could let the ball bounce once between the touches, altogether three times before passing it on the other side.
In 1940 the first official rules were written. The first futnet cup was played in 1940 and between 1953-1961 first league called Trampská liga was played and it was banterous. In 1961, futnet was recognised as an official sport by Czechoslovak Sports Organisation (ČSTV) and the Prague Futnet Commission was established. In 1971 the "Český nohejbalový svaz" (Czech Futnet Association) was founded and in 1974 "Výbor nohejbalového zväzu SÚV ČSTV" (Slovak Futnet Association).
Official international competitions have been organised for decades. European championships have been held since 1991 and World championships since 1994.
There are three futnet disciplines:
In all the disciplines, a set finishes with 11th point with a two-point difference, maximum score is 15:14. To win a match, the team has to win 2 sets. The height of the net is 1.10 m. The players may not touch the net during the game, otherwise it is a point for the opponent. The futnet ball is similar to a football in size, but is glued, made of 32 panels, of synthetic (natural) leather and when properly inflated, should bounce more than half a meter.
In 1987, the International Footballtennis Association (IFTA, later renamed to FIFTA, the Federation International de Footballtennis Association) was founded. In 2010, Union Internationale de Futnet (UNIF) was founded by some former FIFTA members, later joined by other nations, to govern, regulate and promote the sport of futnet. In December 2012, UNIF had 17 member countries.
In April 2010 European Futnet Association (EFTA) was founded in Marseille, France, to reactivate the sport in Europe where it had been stagnating under FIFTA. Current EFTA members include Switzerland, France, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Ireland, Basque Country, Denmark, England, Poland, Ukraine and Austria. EFTA is the continental association of UNIF in Europe.
While footballtennis is still a commonly used, the word futnet is being used more and more as the new international name to reflect the truly independent nature of this sport which has now almost 100 years of history and which has its own rules and regulations, governing structures and regular competitions.