Balls at the World Cup 1998-2022: whimsical Jabulani and electronic stuffin
It's time to talk about the balls of the world's main football tournaments in the era of high technology.
FIFA has unveiled the golden ball that will be used in the semi-final and final matches of the World Cup in Qatar. However, we have already heard about the current ball, which is able to single-handedly take away a goal from Cristiano Ronaldo. So, it's time to sum up the series of materials about the balls that were played at the World Championships in different years.
Balls at the World Cup 1930-1938: a dangerous string and the Orsi incident
Balls in the World Cup 1950-1962: the rescue valve and the Chilean curiosity
Balls in the World Cup 1970-1994: pentagons and synthetics
In 1998, another marketing ploy was made: people love to buy bright - that's the official ball of the World Cup in France for the first time turned out to be colored. The 32-panel sphere called "Tricolor" was decorated with triangles depicting cockerels, the symbols of the French national team. A layer of synthetic cellular foam filled with gas appeared inside the ball - this distributed the load upon impact and protected it from deformation.
In 2002, Adidas decided to play with the design and retreated from strict geometricism. The World Cup was held in Japan and South Korea, and the creators of the ball made it predominantly white - only in four places did something similar to a fiery pinwheel or the head of an oriental dragon appear. "Fevernova" was the last official hand-sewn World Cup ball. The authors promised that it became even more accurate than its predecessor, but it was not without criticism: some did not like the white color, others did not like the excessive brightness, and the Brazilian striker Rivaldo did not like that he flies further than other balls. This, however, did not prevent the Brazilians from winning the championship.
"Teamgeist" - such an English-German word was called the ball of the 2006 World Cup in Germany. This neologism was translated as "Team Spirit". The design of the ball was innovative: instead of the usual 32 polygonal panels, there were only fourteen, mostly rounded. "Teamgeist" was the first to cease to depend on the weather: with the help of thermal exposure when connecting the parts, it was made waterproof.
In the design of the ball of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, which was called "Jabulani", 11 colors were used - this is a symbol of the ethnic diversity of Africa, which first hosted the World Cup. The ball consisted of eight voluminous thermopolyurethane panels covered with a layer of foam. Beautiful, innovative - but that's all. On the field, Jabulani, with its unpredictable trajectory, has become a quiet terror for forwards and goalkeepers. "It's a disgrace to play with such a ball in the World Cup," said Luigi Buffon, Italy's goalkeeper.
In 2014, the creators continued to experiment and introduced Brazuka. The colorful ball, bright as the host country of the World Cup Brazil, has again become innovative in form. Compound curves reduced the number of parts to six, connection points to eight, and seams to twelve, improving the aerodynamics of the ball. And indeed - such an embarrassment as with Jabulani did not happen.
"Telstar-18", and simply "Krasava" - that was the name of the ball of the World Cup in Russia. This time, the six panels it was sewn from were based not on curves, but on broken lines. Inside "Krasava" were polyester and polyurethane foam. And for the first time, an electronic chip was introduced into the lining of the ball, which so far was only a toy that allowed reading information about the ball on the screen when hovering a smartphone. Interestingly, in three matches of the group stage, “Telstar-18” was blown away - how much this is due to the design is unknown.
"Al-Rihla", translated from Arabic as "Journey", is the name of the official match of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. This time there are much more panels - twenty, they are painted with the colors of the sea and the desert. For the first time ever, an electronic system has appeared in the ball chamber, coupled with the VAR system, which transmits the most accurate data on the movement of the ball. It was this system that put an end to the debate about who scored the goal against Uruguay, and stated that Ronaldo did not touch the ball.