From afar, it looks like a bar table. Up close, the closest description would be a kind of ping-pong game played with a football. The game, called futmesa ("table football" in a loose translation), is becoming an alternative to the traditional peladas, informal beach football matches, on São Paulo's northern coast.
Futmesa is a favorite pastime during training season for professional football players, but it is also becoming popular among amateurs because it brings a new dynamic to the game.
It is played in teams of two or four, and the main rule is to keep the ball in the air after each time it bounces on the table. Headbutts, kicks, and chest traps are all allowed, but like in real football, no hands. There is also a variation in which each player has to touch the ball three times before sending it to the opposing team at the other side of the table.
Unlike the usual afternoon informal matches on the beach, futmesa requires fewer players, and it's more geared towards skill building, like ball control.
Futmesa is also called teqboll, mesabol, fut toc and can get adaptations inspired by footvolley or frescoball, since the primary goal is keeping the ball moving.
The game started in Spain, with Ronaldinho as its main poster boy. He is seen in the first futmesa videos on the Internet, from 2016. But it only hit Brazilian social media earlier this year, when videos showing Neymar kicking a football over a table during World Cup training started to pop all over the place.
Translated by NATASHA MADOV