T-model to Telstar 18: the evolution of the World Cup ball

It took until 1855 for someone to make a decent
football. Charles Goodyear developed a suitably round ball using his patented vulcanised rubber. Yes, the first modern soccer ball was created by an American! However the modest design somehow managed
to cause great controversy at the first World Cup in 1930, when finalists Argentina and
Uruguay couldn’t agree on which model of ball to use. A compromise was reached, with one ball being used each half. From this point on, FIFA decreed that a uniform ball be used for each tournament, but it wasn’t
until Mexico 1970 that the revolution truly began. Being the first World Cup broadcast globally, live on television, the official match ball
had to be designed with this task in mind. It introduced the now-iconic 32-panel ‘Buckminster
Ball’ design, conceived by architect Richard Buckminster – another American! The black and white design improved visibility on TV and the name Telstar, is shared with
the Russian satellites, that not only resemble the ball’s appearance, but also helped broadcast
the action to a worldwide audience. The Tango for Argentina 1978
introduced two Adidas hallmarks: the ‘triad’ patterns on the hexagonal panels; and naming the ball after a characteristic of the host nation. The Tango España for Spain 1982 was the last ball to be made of real leather. It had a polyurethane coating to make it water resistant, but unfortunately this affected
the ball’s durability, meaning replacements had to be called upon in several matches. The Azteca at Mexico 1986 was the first entirely synthetic World Cup
ball and the first to incorporate bespoke decorations, inspired by the host nation. Like the Azteca, the Etrusco pays homage to the Etruscan Civilization of ancient Italy. The major structural change to the ball was the inner layer of black polyurethane foam,
to help the ball maintain its form and resist tearing. “Quest for the Stars” was the theme at USA 94 with star clusters and constellations
adorning the ball. Given the proud history of American innovation
in ball design, there wasn’t anything radically different about this one, only another layer
of polyurewhatsit. The Tricolore at France 1998
was the first multicoloured official match ball, and the last to bear the Adidas triads. But The Fevernova of Japan/Korea 2002, ended the era of the Tango design. From here on in Adidas aimed to revolutionise their match-balls After some criticism of the previous ball’s
unpredictable behaviour, the Teamgeist for Germany 2006 was a radical creation. Gone were the 32 pentagons and hexagons, replaced by a design of 14 thermally-bonded panels, creating a smoother surface with fewer irregularities. A unique, golden model was used in the Final,
a tradition that has been followed since. So how did Adidas follow up the near-unanimous success of the Teamgeist?
14 panels were reduced to 8, with the outer surface covered in pocked “airgrooves”
for better aerodynamics. Initial player reaction was extremely positive, but other players complained about the erratic and unpredictable movement. A team of NASA scientists identified that the design of the ball inadvertently led to
an effect known as ‘knuckling’, where asymmetric air flow over the seams caused unintended movement. When it needs NASA to work out what went wrong,
you know it’s time to go back to the drawing board. The Brazuca’s number one priority for Brazil 2014 was not be the Jabulani. It achieved this with its rough, bumpy texture and deeper seams between its 6 panels. The Telstar 18 for Russia 18
pays tribute to the original Adidas World Cup ball but is also keen to show off just
how modern it is. Retaining the 6-panel structure of the Brazuca and incorporating an innovative
and entirely-necessary near-field communication chip. How useful this will be remains to be seen. So far all involved seem pleased with the
ball’s performance. And if you don’t believe me, just ask any of these fine Adidas-sponsored athletes.

16 thoughts on “T-model to Telstar 18: the evolution of the World Cup ball

  1. Why does it always have to be Adidas? Who makes the decision to always appoint Adidas? Isn’t this a monopoly?

  2. Most of the players will be used to playing with Nike balls (e.g. as used in La Liga and the Premier League) – maybe it doesn't make that big a difference, but I don't think it's ideal. Also, as per the Jabulani, in their desire to do something fancy and impress for the sake of the big tournament Adidas sometimes end up actually making a horrible mess of things.
    It also leads to weird situations such as this (with England not able to practice enough with the World Cup ball as they have a contract with Nike: https://talksport.com/football/england-team-not-permitted-practise-adidas-world-cup-ball-due-fas-contract-nike ).
    The new Adidas ball has already been heavily criticised by keepers, including De Gea, Reina and ter Stegen: http://www.espn.com/soccer/fifa-world-cup/story/3431416/2018-world-cup-ball-criticised-by-spain-and-germany-goalkeepers

  3. Wow what a douche video u did mention American scientist names but did'nt even care to mention that fromm 2010 all of the football for world cup were design by Adidas Pakistan and were produced by Pakistanis

  4. 0:59 Eigil Nielson is credited with creating the common 32-panel football design in 1962, not Buckminster Fuller www.select-sport.com/us/about-select

  5. Jabulani was a disaster because Adidas not only didn't notice the aerodynamic problem, they also may not have taken in to account the altitude of 1,753 meters at Johannesburg, South Africa (which made flight characteristics even worse). Small wonder why when Brazuca was designed the ball underwent a LOT of wind tunnel testing.

  6. Learn how to pronounce Adidas please. They are world renowned for the technological advancement of official footballs throughout the years.

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