World Bowling

The information that follows has been facilitated by the actual President of the ETBF and FIQ Secretary General, Mr.Addie Ophelders and with enormous help from the former FIQ Secretary General, George Sarahete.

The first attempt to coordinate the sport of bowling at world level by organizing world championships and by bringing uniformity through universal playing rules, was undertaken in 1926 by Finland, Germany, The Netherlands, Sweden and USA with the formation of the INTERNATIONAL BOWLING ASSOCIATION (IBA).

In December 1951 the officials of the old IBA took initiative to invite delegates from all interested countries to come to HAMBURG, Germany on 27 January 1952 to discuss the status of bowling and the possible re-activation of the IBA.

The following countries attended the meeting in Hamburg, Germany:

  1. Austria
  2. Belgium
  3. Finland
  4. France
  5. Germany (Federal Republic)
  6. Yugoslavia
  7. Sweden
  8. Switzerland
  9. Luxembourg (represented by proxy given to Belgium)

The unanimous decision of all present was to form a new international bowling federation. The first proposal was to make it a European federation, but it was pointed out that the USA being a strong Tenpin country, may also want to affiliate. The new federation would be a worldwide international organization with 4 different sections: One for Tenpin bowling and 3 for Ninepin bowling: Asphalt (later: Classic), Bohle and Schere.

The new organization would be named as proposed by Mr. René Weiss from France, FÉDÉRATION INTERNATIONALE DES QUILLEURS (FIQ – International federation of Bowlers). Mr. Heinz Kropp from Germany was elected as its first President. Also Section Presidents were elected: for Tenpin Bowling – Mr. Hans Berger from Sweden; for the Asphalt Section – Mr. Leopold Hatzi from Austria; for the Bohle Section – Mr. Willi Stark from Germany; and for the Schere Section – Mr. Francois van Arkels from Belgium.

Country Tenpin Asphalt Bohle Schere
Belgium X     X
Finland X      
Germany X X X X
Sweden X      
Switzerland X X    
Austria   X    
France   X    
Yugoslavia   X    
Denmark   X X  
Netherlands     X X
Luxemburg       X

Although Denmark was not present at the meeting, it had promised to attend and for this reason considered as a member and included among the countries practicing Bohle.

All federations were given the task to prepare for each respective section, playing rules as well as regulations for equipment and to circulate such information among the member federations for comments before the next ordinary meeting. Mr. Weiss and Mr. Hatzi were authorized to draft a proposal for a FIQ Constitution respecting the IOC regulations.

The first official FIQ Championship was also decided upon:

  • 1st European Championships of Asphalt were given to Zagreb, Yugoslavia in May/June 1952.
  • 1st European Championships of Schere were given to Brussels, Belgium in July 1952.
  • The Tenpin Section was planning to conduct its 1st World Championships in Helsinki, Finland in July 1952 during the Olympic Games. But because of Germany’s disagreement based on the fact that three championships in the first year would be financially a heavy burden for the federation, it was decided that the TENPIN Championships should be postponed to 1954.

After the circulation of the minutes of that Conference, Austria wanted to add as a leading principle for the newly established FIQ, that the Chairmanship of the FIQ or of a Section is NOT given to a nation, but to a person who has been elected to the position. That person will also have the right to lead his/her own national federation. The FIQ received its first funds from the IBA which was eventually dissolved in March 1952.

One of the immediate tasks for the new leadership was to recruit more member federations. Either Ninepin or Tenpin could be found in Argentina, Bulgaria, Canada, Czechoslovakia, England, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Saarland, Spain and USA.

It took some time, but in the first year Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Saarland and Spain accepted the invitation. Later, Germany Dem Republic and the Netherlands also accepted to be members.

In the first year (1952) there were also disappointments, because the 1st European Championships of Asphalt had to be cancelled due to delayed preparations: they were moved to Zürich, Switzerland. The Championships for Schere, however, were held and were attended by participants from 5 countries.

The first FIQ Congress was hosted by the German federation in November 1952 in München; 8 member federations attended. During that meeting the first FIQ Constitution was adopted and it became the guideline and “law” for almost 20 years. Also a scale and method for charging annual membership fees was adopted. Also this lasted almost 20 years until the first raise of annual fees and a new scale were found necessary. Another decision adopted, which would be impossible to follow today, was that the official language for all Congress meetings was GERMAN. Rules, however, were to be printed also in English and French.

List of FIQ congresses:

1952 MüNCHEN, Fed. Rep. of Germany
1953 ZüRICH, Switzerland
1955 SAARBRüCKEN, Fed. Rep. of Germany
1957 VIENNA, Austria
1959 LEIPZIG, German Dem Rep.
1961 STRASSBOURG, France
1963 BUDAPEST, Hungary
1965 STOCKHOLM, Sweden
1967 SALZBURG, Austria
1969 MAMAIA, Romania
1973 DUBLIN, Ireland
1975 LONDON, England
1977 HELSINKI, Finland
1979 MANILA, Philippines
1983 CARACAS, Venezuela
1985 VIENNA, Austria
1987 HELSINKI, Finland
1993 ROME, Italy
1995 RENO, USA
1997 NOTTINGHAM, England
2001 AALBORG, Denmark
2003 KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia
2005 AALBORG, Denmark
2007 MONTERREY, Mexico
2009 Las Vegas, USA
2010 Unterföhring, Germany

1953 brought 6 more member federations and in 1954 FIQ had 15 member federations in total. It took 5 more years (1959) to register the first NON-EUROPEAN member federations: Mexico and Venezuela. These two countries had participated in 1958 in the World Tenpin Championships in Helsingborg, Sweden as provisional members. The Constitution provided the Presidium the authority to grant new member federations provisional membership status, to be confirmed (or rejected) at the next regular congress.

The development of the membership looks as follows:

1952 5 federations
1954 15 federations
1959 17 federations
1961 32 federations
1969 41 federations
1975 52 federations
1981 64 federations
1987 73 federations
1991 79 federations
1995 89 federations
2007 134 federations
2010 141 federations

During the 1988 Summer Olympics, bowling was featured as a demonstration sport in Seoul, Korea at Seoul’s Royal Bowling Center. Men and women from 20 different nations participated for Gold, Silver and Bronze medals. Read more about bowling in the 1988 Summer Olympics.

In 2014, FIQ was re-branded, receiving a new name “World Bowling” and logo.