The 2014 World Cup kicks off on June, 12, Thursday, in Brazil and will be enjoyed by millions of fans all over the globe. However, one of the major sports events would not have taken place, if not for one small but important thing â€“ soccer ball.
The earliest known ball bates back to 1540s and resides in Scotland’s Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum. Since those times, it has experienced various innovations and transformations in its size, weight, material and color, and only by 1872 it was ruled by English Football Association that soccer ball should be spherical as possible and measure 27-28 inches in circumference.
The first balls looked more like designer bowling ball bags, but todayâ€™s footballs are more complex and advanced thanks to one of the oldest sports wear brands – Adidas, which has been behind every World Cup ball since the 1970 games.
â€śWe’ve been at the forefront of every major soccer innovation for nearly 90 years and the World Cup has featured Adidas for more than half a century,â€ť said Ernesto Bruce, director of soccer for Adidas, in a statement.
It was the 1970 FIFA World Cup in Mexico, when Adidas was first commissioned to provide the Official Match Ball. Adidas Telstar made history that year â€“ made out of leather with 32 hand-stitched black-and-white panels, it remains prototypical and iconic soccer ball.
Next time Mexico hosted the World Cup in 1986, it also saw the introduction of the first polyurethane coated ball, Azteca, which was rain-resistant with good qualities on hard and wet surfaces. Its elegantly and elaborately decorated design was inspired by the hosting nationâ€™s native Aztec architecture and murals.
In 1998, World Cup moved to France, and Tricolore became the first multi-colored soccer ball, which used underglass print technology with a thin layer of syntactic foam. The new official ball was inspired by the host-countryâ€™s national flag colors and the â€ścockerelâ€ť the traditional symbol of the French nation and Football Federation.
The Adidas Fevernova was the first World Cup Match Ball since 1978 to break with the traditional Tango design introduced in 1978. The colorful and revolutionary look and color usage was entirely based on Asian culture, says Tribal Football.
For the World Cup’s return to Germany in 2006, the number of panel touch points was reduced to 14. Each match at the World Cup finals had its own individual ball, printed with the date of the match, the stadium and the team names, but for the final match it was replaced by match by the gold-colored Teamgeist Berlin.
The 2010 Jabulani was one of the most controversial ball, even Brazilian striker Luis Fabiano described it as â€śsupernatural.â€ť It featured eight panels to improve grip, stability and aerodynamics, however, many players called it too light with unpredictable trajectory.
Called the Brazuca and unveiled during a elaborate ceremony in 2013, the ball was tested by 600 of the world’s top players. By using fewer panels with a kind of “finger” design, the ball’s surface is smoother and less likely to experience “knuckling” (when the ball flies erratically through the air), an issue some players complained about when using the 2010 World Cup “Jabulani” model ball.