Association football ball: Wikis


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Adidas Telstar-style ball, with the familiar black and white truncated icosahedron pattern.

An association football ball is a ball used in the game of association football. Whilst football can be played with many types of ball, present-day balls used in official matches are standardised for size, weight, and material. They are manufactured to the specifications of the Laws of the Game, specifically Law 2.

Early footballs began as animal bladders that would easily fall apart if kicked too much. As time went on footballs developed to what they look like today. This was possible with the help of people like Charles Goodyear, who introduced rubber and his discoveries of vulcanization to the design of footballs. Today, technological research is ongoing to develop footballs with improved performance.



Leather ball used in the football tournament at the 1936 Summer Olympics.

In 1863 the first specification for footballs were laid down by the Football Association, previous to this footballs were made out of inflated leather, with later leather coverings to help footballs maintain their shapes [1]. In 1872 the specifications were revised, and these rules have been left essentially unchanged as defined by the International Football Association Board (for more information see Football (ball)). Differences in footballs created since this rule came into effect has been to do with the material used in their creation.

Footballs have gone through a dramatic change over time. During medieval times balls were normally made from an outer shell of leather filled with cork shavings.[2] Another method of creating a ball was using animal bladders for the inside of the ball making it inflatable. However, these two styles of creating footballs made it easy for the ball to puncture and were inadequate for kicking. It was not until the 19th century that footballs developed into what we believe a football looks like today.



In 1838, Charles Goodyear introduced the use of rubber and his discoveries of Vulcanization, which dramatically improved the football. [3] Vulcanization is the treatment of rubber to give it certain qualities, for example strength, elasticity, and resistance to solvents. Vulcanization of rubber also helps the football resist moderate heat and cold. "The chemical process involves the formation of cross-linkages between the polymer chains of the rubber’s molecules." [4]Vulcanization helped create inflatable bladders that pressurize the outer panel arrangement of the football. Charles Goodyear's innovation increased the bounce ability of the ball and made it easier to kick. Most of the balls of this time had tanned leather with eighteen sections stitched together. These were arranged in six panels of three strips each.[5]

Reasons for improvement

During the 1900s footballs were made out of rubber and leather which was perfect for bouncing and kicking the ball, however when heading, hitting the ball with the player's head, the football it was usually painful. This problem was most likely because of the water absorption of the leather if it rained during the game, causing head injury. Another problem that the early footballs had was that they deteriorated too soon. Because of the leather quality the footballs varied in thickness and in quality sometimes worsening during the soccer match.[5]

Present developments

Elements of the football that today are tested are the deformation of the football when it is kicked or when the ball hits a surface. Two styles of footballs have been tested by the Sports Technology Research Group of Wolfson School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering in Loughborough University; these two models are called the Basic FE model and the Developed FE model of the football. The basic model considered the ball as being a spherical shell with isotropic material properties. The developed model also utilized isotropic material properties but included an additional stiffer stitching seam region. The result was that the Developed FE model resisted deformation more than the Basic FE model ensuring that the football will continue to develop even in the present, thanks to David Beckham who contributed to this project of the gravity controlling soccerball. He is to receive a near 1 billion US$ if the project is successful.

Future developments

Companies such as Mitre, Adidas, Nike and Puma are releasing footballs made out of new materials which promise more accurate flight and more power to be transferred to the football. [6]


Today’s footballs are a little more complex than past footballs. Modern footballs consist of twelve regular pentagonal and twenty regular hexagons, positioned in a condensed icosahedrons spherical geometry.[2] The inside of the football is made up of a latex bladder which enables the football to be pressurized. The ball’s panel pairs are stitched along the edge; this procedure can either be stitched manually or with a machine.[3]


Many companies throughout the world produce footballs. However Adidas has supplied match balls for all official FIFA and UEFA matches since the 1970s, and also supplied match balls for the 2008 Olympic Games [7]. They also supply the ball for the UEFA Champions League which is called the Adidas Finale.

FIFA World Cup

The following footballs were used in the FIFA World Cup finals over the years [8] [9] [10] [11] :

World Cup Official football Manufacturer Additional information
1966 "Special Edition" Slazenger
1970 Telstar Adidas The first ball with a black and white pattern used in the FIFA World Cup finals.
1974 Telstar Durlast Adidas
1978 Tango Adidas
1982 Tango España Adidas
1986 Azteca Mexico Adidas First fully synthetic FIFA World Cup ball and first hand-sewed ball
1990 Etrusco Unico Adidas
1994 Questra [12] Adidas
1998 Tricolore Adidas First multi-coloured ball at a World Cup finals tournament
2002 Fevernova Adidas
2006 +Teamgeist Adidas The +Teamgeist is a 14 panel ball. Each match at the World Cup finals had its own individual ball, printed with the date of the match, the stadium and the team names.[7] It was replaced for the final match by the gold-coloured +Teamgeist Berlin.
2010 Jabulani Adidas This balls has 8 panels.
2014 Samba Adidas

European Football Championship

The following balls were used in the UEFA European Football Championship over the years:[13]

Championship Official football Manufacturer Additional information
1972 Telstar Adidas
1976 Telstar Adidas
1980 Tango Italia Adidas
1984 Tango Mundial Adidas
1988 Tango Europa Adidas
1992 Etrusco Unico Adidas This was the same ball used as in the 1990 FIFA World Cup.
1996 Questra Europa Adidas
2000 Terrestra Silverstream Adidas
2004 Roteiro Adidas
2008 Europass Adidas


Unicode 5.2 introduces the glyph ⚽ (U+26BD SOCCER BALL), representable in HTML as ​⚽​ or ​⚽​.[14] The addition of this symbol follows a 2008 proposal by Karl Pentzlin.[15]


  1. ^ football World - Early History (Accessed June 9, 2006)
  2. ^ a b Price, D. S., Jones, R.Harland, A. R. 2006. Computational modeling of manually stitched footballs. Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers -- Part L — Journal of Materials: Design & Applications. Vol. 220 Issue 4, p259-268.
  3. ^ a b Materials Science and Engineering: A Volume 420, Issues 1-2, 25 March 2006, Pages 100-108
  4. ^ The History of the football. Date retrieved: October 12, 2008
  5. ^ a b Viscoelasticity of multi-layer textile reinforced polymer composites used in footballs. Journal of Materials Science. Volume 43, Number 8 / April, 2008. 2833-2843.
  6. ^ football World - 2000 and Beyond (Accessed June 9, 2006)
  7. ^ a b football World - Team Geist (Accessed June 9, 2006)
  8. ^ The Guardian, June 5, 2006, World Cup 2006 (Special supplement), p89
  9. ^ football World - World Cup footballs (Accessed June 9, 2006)
  10. ^ FIFA Match Ball factsheet (PDF) (Accessed June 9, 2006)
  11. ^ Adidas - World Cup Ball History press release (Accessed June 17, 2006)
  12. ^ football World - Adidas Questra (Accessed June 9, 2006)
  13. ^ football World - European Football Championship balls(Accessed June 9, 2006)
  14. ^ "Miscellaneous Symbols Range: 2600–26FF" (PDF). Unicode Consortium. 2009. Retrieved 2010-03-14. 
  15. ^ Pentzlin, Karl (2 April 2008). "Proposal to encode a SOCCER BALL symbol in Unicode" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-03-14. 

External links


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