The Swiss city of Lausanne, disappointed it would not be hosting a Euro 2008 game, found another way to celebrate the sport — with artsy, offbeat “interactive” football tables.
Twenty-two artists and designers were invited to customise soccer tables — based loosely on a popular European game called baby-foot or foosball — to their own interpretation. Each table was then placed in a different place across this city on the banks of Lake Geneva.
The rules were simple but strict — the artist could do anything as long as the public could play with the creation.
One designer tapped the sport's financial stakes, with players represented by stacks of fake Swiss banknotes — the better the player, the bigger the denominations or the thicker the stack, just like real-life salaries for the David Beckhams and Cristiano Ronaldo of the game.
The city-sponsored exhibition was in part the brainchild of architect Gael Ginggen and his team after they saw a letter in the local press complaining that Switzerland had not organised enough cultural events linked to the month-long games, now in the semi-finals.
“We settled rather quickly for table football as we know that it … is small enough and interesting enough,” Ginggen told AFP.
One designer added an audio element, dubbing her table 'Xilo' for xylophone. The players were made of metal — matt finish for one team, shiny for the other — with each side emitting a distinctive “ping” when it had the ball.
Others opted for a conceptual approach — including one table with a mini-volcano to represent an explosive play.
“In terms of interactivity, it has worked well,” Ginggen told AFP.
Too well for one artist, who presented a battered table complete with debris on the pitch and encouraged the public to add to his work. First some of the debris was vacuumed up by Switzerland's notoriously efficient street cleaners. Then the table was hacked to bits by a young man who claimed he was only following instructions.
Austria and Switzerland are co-hosts of the European championships, which wind up on June 29. But the tables will be relocated to one site in Lausanne — home of the International Olympic Committee — and remain on show through July 15, after which they would be sold.
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