Where art goes, marketing follows: Maurizio Cattelan and Nike's 22-man foosball table

"We love playing foosball here in Italy. We usually play it 2 vs. 2," reads text at the website of Milan's Nike Store. "Well, at Nike Stadium Milan we play it 11 vs. 11." It's the "the largest foosball table on the planet," enthuses the blog Mademan, making the same claim Gizmodo did about a 22-person table Amstel fabricated a few years.

But leave it to advertisers to oversell -- and to think they came up with the idea first.

Beating them all to the punch by well over a decade is Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan, who in 1991 created a 22-player table, called Stadium. He was tweaking the spectacle of sports, but at times he injected other ideas as well. The photo above shows the table in use by a soccer team Cattelan formed. In the early years of concern over a spike in immigration in Italy, he recruited Senegalese men on the streets of a small town near Bologna and asked them to be on his team, which actually played tournaments ("[M]y guys were always losing. It was bad"). He writes that the team name, emblazoned on the front of uniforms he had made, is a Nazi slogan:
It's a fake company. It's a word that comes from the German. It means "go home." It's the only memory I have from the war because my father and my grandfather were always saying "rauss." And you can still see this word on the streets in Italy — with the " ." So it's a ghost that's still around.

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