Three Sided Football

Balance of Power

Three Sided Football has been getting increasing coverage in different countries. The Philosophy Football FC from UK has been at the heart of it.


3sidedPitchIn 2010, Sally O’Reilly, then writer in residence at Whitechapel Gallery in east London, organised a three-sided match to take place during the campaign for the general election in the UK, in which three teams would represent the main political parties in a game designed to demonstrate the shifting allegiences and balance of power in party politics. Knowing Philosophy Football FC as a club which looks to use football as an expression of political and cultural ideals, she approached the club to take part, and to formulate a set of rules which could be used in a real situation.



The set of rules proposed for the Whitechapel match was minimal:

1. Scoring
A team does not count the goals it scores, only the goals it concedes. The winner is the team that concedes the fewest goals.

2. Throw-ins / goal-kicks / corners
On the hexagonal pitch, each team has two sides of the six-sided pitch: the side with the goal (the ‘backside’) and the side opposite to your goal (the ‘frontside’). If the ball goes out on one of your two sides, you get the throw-in / goal-kick. If it went out off you, the throw-in or corner goes to the team whose own goal is nearest to where the ball went out.

3. Referees
While there is a temptation to have no referees with the following dictat in mind: ‘The game deconstructs the mythic bi-polar structure of conventional football, where an us-and-them struggle mediated by the referee mimics the way the media and the state pose themselves as “neutral” elements in the class struggle’, the match will have two referees, able to make discerning philosophical judgements.

4. Duration of match
Ideally, teams will play until people get bored, start to wander off, fall asleep etc: however, three thirty-minute ‘halves’ with teams rotating goals would work well.

5. Other rules
There will be no off-sides. There will be rolling subs, rush goalies etc.

Thomas Büsch

Filmmaker, Founding Member and Secretary General of diyalog, promotion of cultural exchange with Turkey. Since 2012 he is also project manager of InEnArt.

Leave a Reply