Ultimate Guide To World Cup Soccer Balls
The World Cup ball has become more than just the ball, but an insight into the ever changing technology involved in the game and its equipment. In the current game, the design and artwork on the 2018 ball has been as eagerly anticapted as the World Cup 2018 kits that the teams will be wearing.
The original FIFA soccer ball was made of thick leather and T-shaped panels. Adidas made their first World Cup soccer ball for the 1970 tournament, an association that has remained ever since. 1982 was the last time leather balls were used. The 21st century saw mass changes to the ball to make it more accurate.
World Cup Balls 1930-2018
1930 – T-Model
The T-Model was the ball used in the final, however it was not the only ball. The game started with a ball named the Tiento, which was the ball of choice for Argentina. At halftime, with Argentina up 2-1, the ball was changed to the favoured ball of opponents Uruguay, who promptly scored 3 unanswered goals with their heavier ball to win the title.
1934 – Federale 102
The biggest change with this ball was the laces being changed from leather to cotton, which was more forgiving for players, especially when heading the ball.
1938 – Allen
The first ball that had its manufacturers name on the ball. French company Allen, whose only real change was making the edges of each panel more rounded, which helped improve the spherical consistency of the ball.
1950 – Superball Duplo T
Due to the long gap between cups, courtesy of World War II, the advancement in ball design was quite noticeable in 1950. The previous balls all needed skilled inflation experts to pump the balls up, however this ball had a completely closed leather inner with a small valve, one of the first balls to be pumped up with a needle and pump.
1954 – Swiss World Champion
The Panels on this Swiss designed ball interlocked in a more zig-zag style, which became commonplace for the new few decades.
1958 – Top Star
An exhaustive process was undertaken by FIFA officials to decide upon the 1958 World Cup ball, before they whittled it down to this, the Top Star. Instead of the 18 panels of previous World Cup balls, this one had 24 panels.
1962 – Crack
This ball had a short-lived and much disliked existence. It had irregular shaped panels which was not to the liking of many teams. This ball was so disliked, it was ditched mid-tournament and replaced by the Top Star ball of the previous World Cup.
1966 – Slazenger Challenge
The first major producer of sports equipment made this ball. Slazenger drew upon the design of the Top Star ball, making subtle improvements, with the only real difference being that it had 25 panels, 1 more than the Top Star.
1970 – Adidas Telstar
The first ball made by Adidas for the World Cup and it was a huge evolutionary step. As opposed to the long panels of this past, this ball had 32 penatgon shaped panels and was black and white in colour, so as to make it easier to see the ball on black & white televisions. This ball also had a coating of a leather protectant to extend the life of the ball, especially in wet conditions.
1974 – Adidas Telstar Durlast
This ball was essentially the same as the 1970 ball, with the only difference being that the 1974 ball had a thicker leather protective coating.
1978 – Adidas Tango Durlast
This ball was again the same ball as the previous two tournaments, with the only change being in aesthetics. Instead of black panels, this ball had a design across each panel. This went on to become one of the most popular and widely sold soccer balls.
1982 – Adidas Tango Espana
Adidas felt no need to make any changes to what had become the most popular ball ever made. This ball saw improvements to the water resistance and stitching that would pave the way for future balls. On a more major note, this was also the last time a leather ball was used in a World Cup tournament.
1986 – Adidas Azteca
The first ever synthetic ball in a World Cup. These balls were fully water resistant, thus they didn’t get heavier as they got wet. They also sprung back into shape immediately after being kicked, making for a more consistent, durable and reliable ball.
1990 – Adidas Entrusco Unico
This ball only had very minor improvements in the synthetic materials used in production. Designs on the ball were the only majorly noticeable changes.
1994 – Adidas Questra
The space age ball. The external shell of the ball contained a layer of polystyrene foam which saw the ball travel further and faster off the foot. This change saw plenty of goals being scored, more than in any other tournament prior by some margin.
1998 – Adidas Tricolore
Small enhancements to the polyurethane layer further enhanced accuracy and speed, while most noticeably, the ball was the first to introduce several colours on the ball, coloured in the red, white and blue of the French flag.
2002 – Adidas Fevernova
The most obvious change was in artwork design on the ball, seeing Adidas depart from the stylings of the Tango ball. It was a heavy ball, but some players felt that it was lighter, while other thought it had an inconsistent bounce.
2006 – Adidas Teamgeist
Adidas abandoned their successful 32 panel design and went with this 14 panel design, with fewer stitches and seams made the ball both lighter and more round. The ball though was found to be somewhat inconsistent in flight
2010 – Adidas Jabulani
Along with the Crack ball of 1962, this ball will go down as one of the most hated. It reduced the number of panels again from 14 down to just 8, with the theory that it was more perfectly round. This ball though was found to have the same inconsistent flight issues as the previous ball, except they were more accentuated this time.
2014 – Adidas Brazuca
The number of panels was again reduced, this time from 8 to 6, however this ball underwent exhausting testing in-house and by players and clubs all around the world for long periods of time. The end result was a pleasing improvement on the previous ball. The Brazuca ball had a brilliant colourful design which saw it become very popular with fans.
2018 – Adidas Telstar 18
The 2018 World Cup ball retains the same panel structure of the Brazuca. Art design wise, the ball is a new age throwback to the original Telstar ball. The six panels are shaped differently to the Brazuca, and coupled with the print design, is designed to have the appearance of the 32 panel ball from 1970.