Category Archives: About 3sf

Istanbul Biennale

Philosophy Football FC, who we have played in a number of tournaments over the last year (Deptford X, 1st International, Plumstead Rotorende, The Jorn Memorial in Regents Park), have been invited to participate in a Three Sided Football match in Istanbul later this month. The match, being organised by InEnArt as part of the Istanbul Biennale of Art, will pit The Philosophers against Dynamo Windrad from Germany and Ayazma FC, a team of Turkish writers, artists and actors. As well as demonstrating an alternative forum for co-oporation and collaboration, the game is intended to convey solidarity with Istanbul’s creative community while they are experiencing severe restrictions on their freedom of expression and action during the recent government clampdown. Since the stalemate that resulted from the demonstrations this summer in Taksim Square concerning the proposed closure and development of Gezi Park, numerous protest actions have taken place in Istanbul to keep the flame of opposition alive and the game is intended to contribute to this programme of defiance.

In parallel with playing the game, Philosophy Football intend to use the occasion to launch a call for the formation of an International Three Sided Football Federation. As the game has grown over the last twenty years, and especially during its rapid expansion since 2010, it has become clear that many of the groups who have experimented with this expanded version of the beautiful game have developed their own rules and methods of organisation. While such disparity is in many ways complementary to the ethos of the game, the playing of matches between teams drawn from these different groups clearly requires a unification of the methods of play for their games to be compatible. The foundation of a Federation is intended to not only synthesise the various permutations and interpretations of the game into a unified structure, but to draw up a philosophical statement of intent, a declaration of the principles of collaboration and experimentation which lie at the heart of the game.

Philosophy Football have invited Mark from D3FC to play with them, as part of their team, during the match and to take part in the discussions surrounding the development of the Federation. The Biennale have agreed to host this conference as part as the parallel series of events coinciding with the main event at the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art and InEnArt have prepared this animated introduction to publicise the game.


Leave a comment

September 1, 2013 · 10:47 pm

In the beginning…

After much searching, I have managed to unearth the original flyer from the inaugural Three Sided Football game held in Glasgow at Winterchool’94.
Organised by Richard Essex (Fabian Tompsett), the game took place on a very cold Glasgow Green with many of the players in no fit state to play. Needless to say, neither Fabian nor I can remember the scores.

glasgow flyer

Fabian’s nurturing of the game over the last two decades has been vital to its success today, and although Jorn may well have originally speculated upon the idea, the praxis of three sided football as a living critique of the “spectacle of non intervention” is really due to Fabian alone. Following the success of the Glasgow Green game Fabian was also instrumental in organising the game played during the Hackney Anarchist Week in 1996 (of which more later) and in aiding the AAA to integrate 3sf into their training programme for acclimatising themselves to a liberated life in zero gravity (to get used to thinking beyond two dimensions as there is no up or down in space).

As reports of these games slowly filtered through the internet the seed was sown.

Leave a comment

Filed under About 3sf


Despite the success of the Deptford X tournament, the post op dissection of the game(s) revealed a noticeable flaw in the unfolding of the events. Playing a full game (three rotations) in succession between four teams left the team playing the first three games but having to sit out the last in a difficult situation. For three whole rotations at the end of the game they would be at the mercy of events. And indeed Philosphy FC – who were the team placed in the situation having drawn the short straw – attested vigorously to this.

As we mulled over how the situation might be avoided, Fabian suggested that we turn our thoughts to the essence of the game – Jorn’s theory of complimentarity and the triolectical method at its heart. Blessed with the knowledge that comes from translating original texts from one language to another (see Open Creation and its Enemies), Fabian reminded us that the Triloectic is not a reverbarative process but a rotational one. Jorns over-riding motif for his conception of action was that of the spiral, of life and the transactions which define it as a circular process which turns and turns but which never (re)turns to its origin.

plumstead game logo

The rotational aspect of three sided football, teams moving around the pitch over three periods rather than exchanging sides over two, is already demonstrative of this aspect of his thought. Fabian thus speculated upon the idea of a game in which the teams did not enter the field of play at the end of each full game, but after each rotation had been completed.

In such a scenario the first three teams (call them A B & C) would play one rotation. A would then jump out at the end of the first and D would enter the field. The second rotation would then be B C & D. If there were five teams, B would then leave at the end of the second and E would join for the third, playing against C & D.

This organisation of play would not only accommodate an ever increasing number of teams within a single game, but would eliminate the problematic of a team having to sit out an entire triple rotation as the remaining teams sought to gain an unfair advantage over them.

This suggestion was felt by all at the Post Op to be an excellent idea and one which should be put into practise as soon as possible. We have therefore been looking for an opportunity to do just that since the summer and I can now very happily report that this opportunity has arrived.

Owen Proctor-Jackson, who has been playing with NX Irregulars since the tournament, is one of the organisers of the Plumstead MakeMery and he has persuaded its management committee to include a 3SF tournament in the upcoming ‘Sporting Spectacular’ on Plumstead Common on Sunday 14th October.

The four teams who played the Deptford X tournament have agreed to take part and Owen is going to try his best to organise a Plumstead crew to make it a five team extravaganza.

In the meantime, we have been brainstorming ideas as to what such a game should be called and have settled upon the term Rotorende, which is Danish for rotational. There are lots of pleasant meanings within this – the allusion to the Danish origins of the game, the rotor like turning round of teams on the pitch from one goal to another and the end to end play which seems to form the basis of the game.

Leave a comment

Filed under About 3sf

Deptford X 2012

D3FC have been selected by Deptford X to host a three sided football tournament during this years festival.

3sf poster

Leave a comment

Filed under About 3sf

Transpontine 3sf link

Neil provides commentary on the pioneer games played by The Autonomous Association of Astronauts in the late 1990’s.

Leave a comment

Filed under About 3sf

Drei seitiges fussball


Leave a comment

April 2, 2012 · 9:47 pm

The Pitch


Leave a comment

March 22, 2012 · 9:43 pm

The Haggerston Game

An excellent report here of the game organised by Philosophy FC for the Whitechapel Art Gallery in conjunction with the 2010 General Election


Leave a comment

Filed under About 3sf

An Introduction to Three Sided Football


The idea of 3-sided football was developed in the early 1960’s by the situationist artist and philosopher Asger Jorn, who saw it as a means of demonstrating his own notion of trialectics – a trinitarian supercession of the binary dialectic of classical Marxian dogma – and that of detournement – the situationist practise of extrapropriation of dominant norms through antagonistic couterposition.

There is no record of any games played by Jorn or the situationists and it is believed the first ever game to come to fruition was organised by the reconstituted London Psycho-geographical Association at the Glasgow Anarchist Summer School in 1993. The game was later developed by the Autonomous Association of Astronauts during the late 90’s and over the last few years a number of one off performance events have been held at Museums and Arts Festivals around Europe.

The key to the game is that it does not foster aggression or competitiveness, rather it 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.


Unlike two-sided football, no team keeps a record of the number of goals they score. Instead they keep a tally of the goals they concede, and the winner is determined to be the team which concedes least goals.

The pitch is hexagonal with each team being assigned two opposite sides for bureaucratic purposes should the ball be kicked out of the play.

The goal side is called the back line and the opposite side is called the front line. When the ball goes out of the play on the frontline, a throw-in is conceded. This is carried out by the team whose frontline it is, unless they had last touch. In that case the throw in is taken by the team whose goal is the nearest. When the ball goes out of the play at the backline, the defending team has a goal kick, unless they had last touch, in which case a corner is taken by the team whose goal is nearest.

The semicircle around the goal functions as a penalty area and any penalty given is taken from the apex of the semi circle opposite the goal.


In open play, the teams are free to form (or break) alliances in order to gain advantage against the opposing team(s). While tactical planning plays a role in such manouevres, the penetration of the defence by two opposing teams imposes upon the defence the task of counterbalancing their disadvantage through sowing the seeds of discord in an alliance which can only be temporary. This will be achieved through exhortation, body language, and an ability to manoeuvre the ball and players into such a position that one opposing team will realise that its interests are better served by breaking off the attack and allying themselves with the defending team. Bearing in mind that such a decision will not necessarily be immediate, a team may well find itself split between two alliances. Such a situation opens them up to the possibility of their enemies uniting, making maximum use of this confusion.

3-sided football is thus seen as a game of skill, persuasion and psychogeography..

Leave a comment

Filed under About 3sf