The first time Adidas designed an official World Cup ball was in 1970. The design has gone through a number of changes over the years.
This has not only modernized the look of the ball, but has also influenced the way the game is played.
The visual timeline above, shows how the design started off fairly traditional, and has continued to evolve. In 1982, for the World Cup in Spain, Adidas introduced the first ball that was designed to be water resistant. They did this user a rubber inlaid which prevented water from seeping through. Unfortunately, the rubber wore out from kicking in such a short time it needed to be replaced during the game. This was the last year a genuine leather ball was used in the World Cup.
In 1986, during the World Cup in Mexico, the first polyurethane coated ball was introduced. This ball was designed to work well on hard, wet surfaces and was rain-resistant. It also was the first time the design on the ball was decorated in honor of its host nation.
In 1994, for the World Cup in USA, the water-resistance of the ball was increased with a layer pf polystyrene foam. This also increased the acceleration of the ball when kicked. The new ball was softer, and gave players improved control.
The tradition of black and white balls ended in 1998 for the World Cup in France. The ball was red, white and blue and used underglass print technology. A year later in 1999, the Women’s World Cup got their first official ball.
In 2002 for the World Cup in Korea, the new ball was made of thicker, inner layers designed to give the ball a more precise and accurate flight path.
Touch panel points were reduced for the first time for the World Cup in Berlin in 2006. The new design made for a smooth, round exterior to improve a players control over the ball. In 2010 for the World Cup in South Africa, “grip n groove” technology was added to make the ball more stable under all conditions. The current ball design for the World Cup in Brazil was voted for by the public.
Photo credit: goalsandgear.com