WORLD CUP BALL: ITS HISTORY AND EVOLUTION SINCE 1930

An emblematic element of the World Cup, the World Cup ball has undergone various changes since 1930. Here is a retrospective.


From the Telstar to the Fevernova, from South Africa’s Jabulani to Germany’s Teamgeist, the World Cup football is, along with the Champions League ball, the most iconic of the green rectangles. Although it only lives for a month before being absent for four long years, the World Cup ball is meant to be that link that takes us back a few years.

THE HISTORY OF WORLD CUP BALLS
How can we forget the legendary 1998 World Cup ball, Tricolore? How can we not pay tribute to the iconic Telstar that revolutionised the ball world in the 1970s? Before the presentation of the new World Cup ball by adidas, we take a look at the balls that have marked the history of the competition.

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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 remains the witness of this World Cup history. It is also a great way to understand and discover the evolution of the technologies used on this modest but very important accessory that is the ball.

THE 1930 WORLD CUP BALL
Location: Uruguay | Name of the 1930 World Cup ball: TWELVE PANELS
A first World Cup and already a first history with the ball. In the final between Uruguay and Argentina, two different balls were used during the match. The one for the first half was supplied by Argentina, a 12-panel Tiento made in Scotland, while the one for the second half was supplied by Uruguay, the T-Shape imported from England. The latter was considerably heavier and thicker than the first half and Uruguay, who were trailing 1-2 at half-time, went on to win the World Cup by a score of 4-2.

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THE BALL OF THE 1934 WORLD CUP
Location : Italy | Name of the 1934 World Cup ball : FEDERALE 102

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THE 1938 WORLD CUP BALL
Location: France | Name of the 1938 World Cup ball: Allen

For the World Cup in France, the ball from the Parisian company Allen was different from its predecessors in that it had 13 leather panels, compared to 12 previously.

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THE 1950 WORLD CUP BALL
Location: Brazil | Name of the 1950 World Cup ball: SUPER DUPLO T

The 1950 World Cup ball was a milestone in that for the first time it did not have the traditional laces. Instead, a valvse similar to what can still be found today was used.

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THE 1954 WORLD CUP BALL
Location: Switzerland | Name of the 1954 World Cup ball: Unknown

In 1954, a yellow ball took over. The most distinctive feature of this ball was the markings. While the World Cup was held in Switzerland, the ball was marked “SWISS WORLD CHAMPION MATCH BALL”.

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THE 1958 WORLD CUP BALL
Location: Sweden | Name of the 1958 World Cup ball: Top Star

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THE 1962 WORLD CUP BALL
Location: Chile | Name of the 1962 World Cup ball: CRACK

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

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THE 1966 WORLD CUP BALL
Location: England | Name of the 1966 World Cup ball: 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 specialised in the world of tennis, cricket and golf, the English brand surprised everyone by winning the contract and presenting its 4-star Challenge ball with 25 panels.

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THE 1970 WORLD CUP BALL
Location: Mexico | Name of the 1970 World Cup ball: Telstar

In 1970, adidas became an official FIFA partner and supplier of the World Cup ball. For its first competition, the brand with the three stripes decided to use the Telstar telecommunications satellite (sent into orbit in 1962) as a model. While the 1970 World Cup was widely broadcast in colour, adidas decided to unveil a highly visible black and white 32-panel ball. The most iconic ball in football history was born.

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THE 1974 WORLD CUP BALL
Location: Germany | Name of the 1974 World Cup ball: Telstar Durlast

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1978 WORLD CUP BALL
Location: Argentina | Name of the 1978 World Cup ball: Tango Rosario

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

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THE 1982 WORLD CUP BALL
Location: Spain | Name of the 1982 World Cup ball: Tango Espana

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THE BALL OF THE 1986 WORLD CUP
Location: Mexico | 1986 World Cup ball name: Azteca

In 1986, adidas stepped up its involvement in the design and technology of World Cup balls. With the Azteca, for example, the German brand discontinued the use of leather, which had a history of absorbing water. Instead, the Azteca is made of 100% synthetic material and is covered with polyethylene for greater resistance, impermeability and non-deformability. A good idea for a World Cup that is played in the heights of Mexico.

In addition to the technological aspect, adidas made a nice nod to the host country with Aztec designs on the entire ball.

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THE 1990 WORLD CUP BALL
Location: Italy | Name of the 1990 World Cup ball: Etrusco Unico

Four years later, adidas unveiled the Etrusco Unico ball, which featured the Etruscan theme, the people who lived in central Italy from the 9th to the 1st century BC.

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THE 1994 WORLD CUP BALL
Location: United States | Name of the 1994 World Cup ball: Questra

In 1994, with the World Cup taking place in the United States and FIFA’s desire to bring the game of soccer to the masses, adidas modified the ball to make it more spectacular. A layer of polystyrene foam was added to give the ball more power and acceleration when kicked. The shots are then faster and above all the trajectories more floating.

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THE 1998 WORLD CUP BALL
Location: France | Name of the 1998 World Cup ball: Tricolour

How to forget it? Identical to the 1994 ball, the 1998 Tricolore stands out by the disappearance of the black/white mix and the presence of the colours of the French flag.

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THE 2002 WORLD CUP BALL
Location: Japan/South Korea | Name of the 2002 World Cup ball: Fevernova

Probably the most “Nike” of all adidas balls! Unfortunately, the 2002 Fevernova has been widely criticised for its lightness, but its design is quite incredible for adidas and was directly inspired by Asian culture.

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THE 2006 WORLD CUP BALL
Location: Germany | Name of the 2006 World Cup ball: Teamgeist

It may not be well known, but the 2006 World Cup ball was obviously designed by adidas, but also by Molten! The Japanese brand was involved in the process of creating this football, and in particular in the creation of the 14 Teamgeist panels, which replaced the 32 of the previous versions. Moreover, these panels were no longer sewn but ironed on. A new era.

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THE 2010 WORLD CUP BALL
Location: South Africa | Name of the 2010 World Cup ball: Jabulani

From Germany’s fourteen panels to the eight panels of the African Jabulani. For this World Cup in South Africa, adidas is bringing new technological ideas and an ever more striking design. While the German brand had sought to work on the aerodynamics of the ball, it had also relied on significant academic input as it had been developed in partnership with researchers at Loughborough University in the UK. This did not stop the various players from complaining about its trajectories…

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THE 2014 WORLD CUP BALL
Location: Brazil | Name of the 2014 World Cup Ball: Brazuca

Once again, adidas is going one step further for the World Cup in Brazil. With the Brazuca ball, the German brand is increasing the number of panels to six. In response to the problems of 2010, Brazuca had new technologies that were then closer to those of the ball of the 2013 Champions League final.

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THE 2018 WORLD CUP BALL
Location: Russia | Name of the 2018 World Cup ball: Telstar

From the Telstar of 1970 to the Telstar of 2018, almost everything has changed in the world of footballs. While the design is directly inspired by the first adidas World Cup ball, the technology is even more innovative as adidas is integrating an NFC chip into each ball for the first time. This chip allows consumers to interact with the ball using a smartphone. The technology includes six seamless bonded panels with a 3D texture to improve the feel and grip of the ball.

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THE 2022 WORLD CUP BALL
Location: Qatar | Name of the 2022 World Cup ball: Al Rihla

For the 2022 World Cup, adidas has unveiled Al Rihla. Meaning “The Journey”, the ball is not only inspired by the culture of the host country but also features 20 panels. While the German brand has largely reduced the number of panels in recent years, this is the first time it has increased. In terms of design, the new three stripes logo is seen for the first time, with the inscription “adidas” removed.

READ OUR ARTICLE ABOUT: WORLD CUP 2022: ADIDAS PRESENTS THE OFFICIAL BALL OF THE COMPETITION

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