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its history and evolution since 1930

An emblematic element of the World Cup, the World Cup ball has undergone various evolutions since 1930. Retrospective.

From Telstar to Fevernova, from South Africa’s Jabulani to Germany’s Teamgeist, the World Cup football is, along with the Champions League football, the most iconic green rectangle. If he only lives for a month before being absent for four long years, the World Cup ball wants to be this link that sends us back a few years.

The history of World Cup balls

How can we forget the legendary ball of the 1998 World Cup, Tricolore? How not to pay homage to the emblematic Telstar which revolutionized the world of the ball in the 70s? Before the presentation of the new ball of the World Cup by adidas, we look back on those who marked the history of the competition.

Telstar, the ball for the 2018 World Cup

All World Cup balls since 1930

From its first edition in Uruguay in 1930 to the modern competition that awaits us in 2022 in Qatar, the ball bears witness to this history of the World Cup. A great way also to understand and discover the evolution of the technologies used on this modest but oh so important accessory that is the ball.

The 1930 World Cup ball

Location: Uruguay | 1930 World Cup ball name: T-Shape

A first World Cup and already a first story with the ball. In the final between Uruguay and Argentina, two different balls were used during the game. That of the first period was provided by Argentina, a 12-panel Tiento model made in Scotland, while that of the second was provided by Uruguay, the T-Shape imported from England. Note that the latter was much heavier and thicker than that of the first period and that Uruguay, which was then down 1-2 at halftime, finally won the World Cup with a score of 4-2.

The 1934 World Cup ball

Location: Italy | 1934 World Cup ball name: Unknown

The 1938 World Cup ball

Location: France | 1938 World Cup ball name: Allen

On the occasion of the World Cup in France, the ball of the Parisian house Allen stands out from its predecessors since we find a ball made up of 13 leather panels, against 12 previously.

The 1950 World Cup ball

Location: Brazil | 1950 World Cup ball name: Unknown

1950 marks a turning point in the World Cup ball since for the first time, it does not have the traditional laces. Instead, a valve similar to what can still be found today is used.

The 1954 World Cup ball

Location: Switzerland | 1954 World Cup ball name: Unknown

In 1954, a yellow balloon took over. The biggest particularity of this ball is at the level of the markings. While the world takes place in Switzerland, we find the mentions “SWISS WORLD CHAMPION MATCH BALL”.

The 1958 World Cup ball

Location: Sweden | 1958 World Cup ball name: Top Star

The 1962 World Cup ball

Location: Chile | 1962 World Cup ball name: Santiago

Another disappointment for the World Cup ball. In 1962, in Chile, a ball made locally (and by a French expatriate) was used. The problem is that the ball deflates easily and a referee finally decides to reuse the Top Star model that had been introduced in Sweden four years earlier.

The 1966 World Cup ball

Location: England | 1966 World Cup ball name: Challenge

The last ball before the adidas era. In 1966, in England, the Slazenger brand was the official supplier of the World Cup. Known to be specialized in the world of tennis, cricket or golf, the English brand surprises everyone by winning the contract and presents its Challenge 4-star ball with 25 panels.

The 1970 World Cup ball

Location: Mexico | 1970 World Cup ball name: Telstar

In 1970, adidas became an official partner of FIFA and supplier of the ball for the World Cup. For its first competition, the three-band brand decided to draw inspiration from the Telstar telecommunications satellite (sent into orbit in 1962). While the Mondial 70 is widely broadcast in color, adidas decides to unveil an extremely visible 32-panel black and white ball. The most iconic ball in the history of football is born.

The 1974 World Cup ball

Location: Germany | 1974 World Cup ball name: Telstar Durlast

The 1978 World Cup ball

Location: Argentina | 1978 World Cup ball name: Tango Rosario

In 1978, in Argentina, Telstar gave way to Tango. Visually different, the ball also has the particularity of having been used during the Olympic Games and the various European championships until 1988.

The 1982 World Cup ball

Location: Spain | 1982 World Cup ball name: Tango Espana

The 1986 World Cup ball

Location: Mexico | 1986 World Cup ball name: Azteca

In 1986, adidas stepped up its involvement in World Cup ball design and technology. With the Azteca model, the German brand stops for example the presence of leather which was historical but which had the defect of absorbing water. Instead, the Azteca is made of 100% synthetic in addition to being covered with polyethylene for more resistance, impermeability and dimensionality. A good idea for a World Cup which is played on the heights of Mexico.

In addition to the technological aspect, adidas pays a nice nod to the host country with Aztec designs all over the ball.

The 1990 World Cup ball

Location: Italy | 1990 World Cup ball name: Etrusco Unico

Four years later, adidas unveils the Etrusco Unico ball which gives pride of place to the Etruscan theme, the people who lived in the center of the Italian peninsula from the 9thand at Ier century BC. J.-C.

The 1994 World Cup ball

Location: United States | 1994 World Cup ball name: Questra

In 1994, when the World Cup was taking place in the United States and FIFA wanted to make “soccer” popular, adidas modified the ball to give football a spectacular side. For this, a layer of polystyrene foam is supposed to provide power and acceleration during strikes. The shots are then faster and especially the more floating trajectories.

The 1998 World Cup ball

Location: France | 1998 World Cup ball name: Tricolore

How to forget it? Identical to the 1994 ball, the 1998 Tricolore is distinguished by the disappearance of the black/white mixture and the presence of the colors of the flag of France.

The 2002 World Cup ball

Location: Japan/South Korea | 2002 World Cup ball name: Fevernova

Probably the most “Nike” of adidas balls! Unfortunately known to have been widely criticized because of its lightness, the 2002 Fevernova nevertheless stands out for its rather incredible design for adidas and which was directly inspired by Asian culture.

The 2006 World Cup ball

Location: Germany | 2006 World Cup ball name: Teamgeist

We may not know enough, but the ball for the 2006 World Cup was obviously imagined and designed by adidas, but also by Molten! Active in the process of creating this soccer ball, the Japanese brand participated in the installation of the 14 Teamgeist panels which replaced the 32 of the old versions. In addition, these panels were no longer sewn but heat-sealed. A new era.

The 2010 World Cup ball

Location: South Africa | 2010 World Cup ball name: Jabulani

From the fourteen panels of Germany to the eight panels of the African Jabulani. For this World Cup in South Africa, adidas brings new technological ideas but also an ever more impactful design. If the German brand had sought to work on the concept of aerodynamics of this ball, it had also relied on an important academic contribution since it had been developed in partnership with researchers from the University of Loughborough, in the United Kingdom. . This had not prevented the various actors from complaining about his trajectories…

The 2014 World Cup ball

Location: Brazil | 2014 World Cup ball name: Brazuca

Once again, adidas go a step further with the World Cup in Brazil. With the Brazuca ball, the German brand increases to six, the number of panels. To address the problems of 2010, Brazuca had new technologies that were then closer to those of the ball in the Champions League final of 2013.

The 2018 World Cup ball

Location: Russia | 2018 World Cup ball name: Telstar

From the Telstar of 1970 to the Telstar of 2018, almost everything has changed in the world of soccer balls. While the graphics are directly inspired by the first adidas World Cup ball, the technologies are still innovative since for the first time, adidas integrates an NFC chip in each ball. This chip then allows consumers to interact with the ball using a smartphone. On the technology side, there are six glued panels without visible seams and with a 3D texture to improve the touch and grip of the ball.

The 2022 World Cup ball

Location: Qatar | World Cup 2022 ball name: Al Rihla

For the 2022 World Cup, adidas unveiled Al Rihla. Meaning “The journey”, this balloon is not only inspired by the culture of the host country but also stands out with the appearance of 20 panels. While the German brand had largely reduced the number of panels in recent years, this is the first time that it has increased. On the design side, we discover for the first time the logo of the new formula three stripes, with the inscription “adidas” removed.

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