World Cup Balls

The FIFA World Cup is the premier event in World Football, FIFA have proactively developed all parts of the game, including innovations in the match ball design. Over the years we have seen more and more technology being introduced to the ball design, giving it better weather resistance and better performance. Adidas have been the official ball designer since the 1970s. Here are descriptions of some of their innovations.

1970 & 1974: Telstar

The ball used for the 1970 and 1974 World Cup was the Telstar, design by Adidas. It was the first white football ever to be painted with black pentagons which became synonymous with football throughout the world. The distinct 32 white and black leather panels that comprised the Telstar made it the roundest ball of its time.

1978 & 1982: Tango

The famous Adidas Tango design was introduced for the 1978 World Cup, and used again in 1982. The Tango design formed the blueprint for the next five FIFA World Cup footballs.

1986: Azteca

The ball for the 1986 World Cup, the Adidas Azteca, was the world's first fully synthetic football.

1990: Etrusco Unico

The Adidas Etrusco Unico, the official ball in 1990, in addition to being fully produced with synthetic materials, was also completely water resistant.


Adidas introduced the first official match ball featuring a high tech ultra high energy-return layer of white polyethylene foam, giving a greater performance ball.

1998: Tricolore

The ball used in 1998, the Adidas Tricolore, was the first ever multi-colored official match ball.

2002: Fevernova

The official ball of the World Cup in 2002 was the Fevernova. It featured a refined syntactic foam layer to give the ball superior performance characteristics.

2006: Teamgeist

The official ball in Germany 2006 is the Teamgeist again designed by Adidas. This ball incorporates a figure-8 design for each ball segment, which results in less joins and therefore more flat area so that a foot strike is more likely to hit a soft point on the ball.

2010: Jabulani

The official match ball for the South Africa World Cup is named the "Jabulani", which means "bringing joy to everyone" in the language isiZulu (isiZulu is the language of the Zulu people, with about 10 million speakers, the vast majority of whom live in South Africa). This is the eleventh World Cup match ball made by Adidas, and it features eleven colors, one for each player on the pitch. For the World Cup Final, a golden colored version of the ball, the "Jo'bulani", was used. All the balls were constructed of eight thermally-bonded polyurethane panels, making them very nearly waterproof. With internal stitching, the nearly perfect sphere did not behave as expected for the players, causing many complaints during the 2010 World Cup. See more on the Soccer Physics page.

2014: Brazuca

The official soccer match ball of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil is the Brazuca, again made by Adidas. The ball boasts several critical design innovations, most noticeably six identical "boomerang" shaped panels, just a couple fewer than the ball from the last World Cup, the Jabulani's eight, and many less than the thirty-two seen on common soccerballs. The Brazuca's swirling seam structure and a raised nub texture, similar to a basketball's, are supposed to improve its touch and aerodynamics.

2018: Telstar 18

The Adidas Telstar 18 is the official match ball of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The black and white patterned ball was named for its resemblance to the original Telstar communications satellite, which was coined by the combination of the word "television" and "star. The ball has an embedded near-field communication (NFC) chip to provide interactivity for consumers who purchase the ball.


Related Pages


FIFA World Cup Extra

The next World Cup will be in Qatar 2022, the women's world cup will be in Australia/New Zealand 2023. See more firsts and other trivia, and also information about each country at the World Cup.

Major Events Extra

The largest sporting event in the world is the Olympic Games, but there are many other multi-sport games. In terms of single sport events, nothing beats the FIFA World Cup. To see what's coming up, check out the calendar of major sporting events.

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