Sunday, May 29, 2022

The evolution of World Cup match balls over the last 50 years

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The 2022 FIFA World Cup is set to take place at the end of the year, and ahead of the competition, the official match ball has been revealed. No edition of the grandest competition in football is complete without an iconic ball. And in this article, we will be taking a look at the official match balls from the last 50 years of the World Cup. 

A history of the World Cup match ball over the last 50 years 

Telstar (1970) 

The Telstar was the match ball for the first World Cup to be broadcasted worldwide. The black and white patches improved visibility on the television. 

Telstar Durlast (1974) 


The Telstar design was only slightly modified for the World Cup in West Germany – which is also where Adidas came from. A thicker coat of durlast gave the ball a shine, and the same ball on the pitch was available in stores.

Tango (1978) 

Adidas named the Tango after the hosts, Argentina. The Tango marked the end of the leather ball, and was the most recognisable ball in the world at the time. 

Tango Espana (1982) 

The water resistance and durability of the ball was improved as part of the 1982 World Cup, and the seams were welded as well as sewn together. 

Azteca (1986) 

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Upon returning to Mexico, Adidas made the Azteca based on the Aztec architecture and murals of the country’s rich cultural history. It was also the first-ever synthetic ball to be used at a World Cup. 

Etrusco Unico (1990) 

The 1990 match ball was named after Etruscans, a civilization of ancient Italy. It featured similar designs to the Azteca, in the triangular design. But, the details were replaced to match the Etruscan lions. 

Questra (1994) 

The USA edition of the World Cup brought about the introduction of the space travel themed Questra. The ball was softer than its predecessor, which made for easier control and increased speed. As a result, the 94 edition was the highest scoring World Cup since 1982. 

Tricolore (1998) 

The Tricolore was the first ball to have colours other than black and white on the surface. The Tango triads were present, and they were coloured blue, white and red to match France’s national flag. 

Fevernova (2002) 

The Fevernova was the ball for the Japan and South Korea edition of the World Cup, where Adidas ditched the triangular patch design. It was described as a crazy bouncing ball by Gianluigi Buffon, and was the most precise ball ever created up until that point. 

Teamgeist (2006) 

Teamgeist in German refers to the team spirit. And that was the intention of the ball introduced for the 2006 World Cup. Adidas used a 14-panel design with fewer seams. The ball also had a knuckleball effect which caused it to dip and made the flight unpredictable. 

Jabulani (2010) 

The Jabulani only had eight panels, and was the roundest ball ever created. Goalkeepers were frustrated with it because of the faster movement. It also had the knuckle effect, more noticeable due to the higher speed. And as a result, was among the most notorious match balls in history. 

Brazuca (2014) 

The Brazuca was the most tested ball ever, as stated by Adidas, following their 2010 nightmare with the Jabulani. It only had six panels, and was later used in club leagues such as the MLS and Bundesliga. 

Telstar 18 (2018) 

The Telstar 18 was based on the first design introduced by Adidas in 1970. A changed design called the Telstar Mechta was introduced for the knockout stages, with the colours being red and black on white. 

Al Rihla (2022) 

Al Rihla is the match ball for the 2022 World Cup. It is based on the CRT core and the Speedshell skin which will cater to a faster paced game. 

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Arsh Das
Arsh Das
A music enthusiast, also passionate about football and bringing you the latest in the sporting world every day.


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