The history of the World Cup ball

The official FIFA World Cup ball has become the game's most iconic piece of equipment. Here we look back at the history of the World Cup ball.

adidas World Cup balls

adidas World Cup balls Source: Supplied adidas

1970 FIFA World Cup Mexico adidas Telstar


For its first FIFA World Cup, adidas created the world's most recognised football design. It featured 32 hand-stitched panels (12 black pentagons and 20 white hexagons) that made the ball a more perfect sphere and visible on black and white television for a worldwide audience. To this day, the design remains the football archetype.


1974 FIFA World Cup Germany adidas Telstar/adidas Chile

1974 adidas Telstar durlast

Two match balls were used in 1974 – adidas Telstar was updated with new black branding replacing the gold branding and a new all-white version of Telstar named adidas Chile was introduced. 1974 was also the first time World Cup Match Balls could carry names and logos – adidas was no longer an anonymous supplier of match balls used on the field.


1978 FIFA World Cup Argentina adidas Tango

1978 adidas Tango

The 1978 Match Ball included twenty panels with triads that created an optical impression of 12 identical circles. The Tango inspired the match ball design for the following five World Cup tournaments.


1982 FIFA World Cup Argentina adidas Tango España

1982 adidas Tango Espana

Altered slightly from the 1978 Match Ball, the 1982 ball sported innovative waterproof sealed seams that reduced the ball's water absorption and minimised weight increase during wet conditions. The Tango España was the last traditional leather World Cup ball.


1986 FIFA World Cup Mexico adidas Azteca

1986 adidas Azteca

The 1986 World Cup match ball revolutionised footballs and production techniques as the first ever fully synthetic/polyurethane-coated match ball. The new materials increased durability and further minimised water absorption. The ball was also the first to include designs inspired by the host nation. The Azteca was elegantly decorated with designs inspired by Mexico's Aztec architecture and murals.


1990 FIFA World Cup Italy adidas Etrusco Unico

1990 adidas Etrusco Unico

For the first time, the World Cup match ball contained an internal layer of black polyurethane foam, making it fully water-resistant and faster than ever. The name and design paid homage to Italy's history and the fine art of the Etruscans.


1994 FIFA World Cup USA adidas Questra

1994 adidas Questra

For the 1994 World Cup, the Questra was first ever match ball to be enveloped in a layer of polystyrene foam. The innovation made the ball softer to the touch and much faster off the foot. The ball's design represents space technology, high velocity rockets and America's "quest for the stars."


1998 FIFA World Cup France adidas Tricolore

1998 adidas Tricolore France

The first ever multi-colored match ball, the Tricolore featured an advanced syntactic foam that improved the ball's durability, energy return and responsiveness. adidas also used an under glass print technology for the first time that increased the longevity and visibility of the ball, which featured France's national colors.


2002 FIFA World Cup Korea and Japan adidas Fevernova

2002 adidas Fevernova Japan

For the first time since 1978, the match ball broke away from the traditional Tango design. The innovative Fevernova included a refined syntactic foam layer that allowed for more precise and predictable flight path. Asian culture inspired the revolutionary colorful look.


2006 FIFA World Cup Germany adidas TeamgeistImage

A radically new configuration reduced the amount of panel touch points forming a smooth and perfectly round exterior that improved accuracy and control. Prior to the Teamgeist, the surface of World Cup match balls had notable differences depending on where a player would strike the ball due to seams, ridges and other imperfections where panels come together. The revolutionary propeller design of the Teamgeist minimised corners and created a smoother surface for improved play. The ball was designed with traditional colours of the German flag and was accentuated with the golden colour of the World Cup trophy.

2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa adidas Jabulani

2010 adidas Jabulani

The Jabulani featured a new grip n groove ball technology that provided players a ball with exceptionally stable flight and perfect grip under all conditions. With eight thermally bonded 3-D panels that were spherically molded for the first time, the Jabulani was more round and accurate than any of its predecessors.


2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil adidas Brazuca


2014 adidas Brazuca

adidas provided the official match ball for their 12th straight FIFA World Cup in 2014 as Brazuca was unveiled on December 3, 2013. Brazuca was confirmed as the match ball name after a public vote in Brazil, participated in by more than one million football fans in the host country.


2018 FIFA World Cup Russia adidas Telstar 18

Adidas Telstar 18

The  new  Telstar  18  is  a  reimagining  of  the  first  adidas  FIFA  World  Cup  Official  Match  Ball,  the  Telstar,  which  was  used  at  the  1970  tournament  in  Mexico.  It  features  a  brand  new  carcass  and  panel  design  engineered  to  provide  performance  and  durability  both  in  the  stadium  and  on  the  street. The  ball  also  includes  an  embedded  NFC  chip  –  the  first  time  it’s  ever  been  used  in  an  Official  Match  Ball  –  designed  for  increased  consumer  interaction.


*This content is sponsored by adidas

About adidas Football

adidas is the global leader in football. It is the official sponsor / official supplier partner of the most important football tournaments in the world, such as the FIFA World Cup™, the FIFA Confederations Cup, the UEFA Champions League, the UEFA Europa League and the UEFA European Championships. adidas also sponsors some of the world’s top clubs including Manchester United, Real Madrid, FC Bayern Munich, Juventus and AC Milan. Some of the world’s best players also on the adidas roster are Leo Messi, Paul Pogba, Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, Roberto Firmino, Thomas Müller, Luis Suárez, James Rodríguez, Diego Costa, Mesut Özil, Renato Sanches and Julian Draxler.

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Published 31 May 2018 at 11:22am