History of World Cup Soccer Ball Material Development  [From 1930 – 2018]

Soccer ball, from the first World Cup in 1930, there are 22 soccer balls as the official World Cup soccer balls.

These balls are not just changed every four years to match the color of the host country.

In less than a hundred years, it has undergone tremendous changes from production methods to materials.

Let’s take a look at the development of World Cup soccer balls.

Stage 1: Genuine Leather Soccer Balls

The ball used in the World Cup before 1970 was a plain monotone of genuine leather soccer ball.

The outer layer of the ball used in early football was brown leather, lined with rubber, and the whole ball was quite heavy.

This kind of football is easy to be affected by the weather conditions. With the change of temperature and water absorption, the softness and hardness of the leather on the football surface will also change, which will easily affect the stability of the athletes.

This material has remained almost unchanged for hundreds of years, and the color is single, basically white or brown.

By using this kind of football, if the lighting is poor, soccer fans will let the ball escape from view even when watching the game live, the audience watching the game on a black-and-white television worse.

1930 Uruguay World Cup Soccer Ball


There are 2 different soccer ball used in the 1930 Uruguay World Cup, the left Tiento was provided by Argentina, the right T-model  was provided by Uruguay.

1930-Uruguay version

1934 Italy World Cup Soccer Balls

Italy was chosen to be the host of 1934 World Cup, here is the ball named Federale 102


1938 France World Cup Soccer Ball


Italy supplied the official ball for the 1934 World Cup soccer balls, and this continues.

A french company called “Allen” who produced the footballs for the 1938 World Cup hosted in France.

Made up of leather, consisted of 13 panels and have white cotton laces on a separate, thin panel.

1950 Brazil World Cup Soccer Ball

First ball which have no laces, and with syringe valve.

With this development, there are 2 problems solved:

  • Bad Roundness – The balls with laces have a bad roundness, this is a big improvement.
  • Injuries – Players will hurt by using the head, this will solve this problem too.

1954 Switzerland World Cup Soccer Ball


The FIRST 18 panels soccer ball.

Much similar to the Retro Soccer Balls designs nowadays.

1958 Sweden World Cup Soccer Ball

In Nov 1957, FIFA announced that all producers of balls could enter a competition for which that company should have the honor to supply the match balls for the 1958 World Cup.

This ball TOP STAR was chosen from 102 candidates in a blind test by four FIFA officials.


1962 Chile World Cup Soccer Ball


The Crack was the official ball.

Referee Ken Aston was unimpressed with the Chilean ball provided for the opening match, and sent for a European ball, which arrived in the second half.

Various matches used different balls, with the apparent rumour the European teams didn’t trust the locally produced ball.

1966 England World Cup Soccer Ball

18-panel ball in orange or yellow.

The Challenge 4 star was selected in a blind test at the Football Association headquarters in Soho Square.


1970 Mexico World Cup Soccer Ball


In 1970, the World Cup in Mexico was the first live broadcast of satellites to the world via satellite.

In order to allow viewers of black and white TVs to watch the ball more clearly, the designer designed “Telstar”.

The ball is made entirely of genuine leather, but the difference is that the surface of the ball consists of 32 hand-stitched facets, 12 black pentagons and 20 white hexagons, which makes football start from a single color to more colors.

Stage 2: Synthetic Leather Soccer Balls

Here are some advantages of soccer balls made of Synthetic leather:

  • Softer
  • More durable
  • Better waterproof
  • Increase stability in different weather conditions.

1974 Germany World Cup Soccer Ball

The first polyurethane coated ball, making it waterproof and resistant to wear and tear.

Most high end match soccer balls also uses PU cover until today.


1978 Argentina World Cup Soccer Ball


The first of a family of footballs that was also used in the UEFA European Championships and the Summer Olympics until 1988.

1982 Spain World Cup Soccer Ball

Similar to its predecessor the Tango the Tango España had a polyurethane coating.

It had new and improved rubberized seams and was the last leather ball to be used in the World Cup.


1986 Mexico World Cup Soccer Ball


First fully synthetic FIFA World Cup ball.

The use of this synthetic material makes the ball softer, enhances the durability of the ball, further weakens the water absorption of the ball, and enhances the adaptability and stability of the ball in various environments.

1990 Italy World Cup Soccer Ball

It was the official match ball of the 1990 FIFA World Cup in Italy, the UEFA Euro 1992 in Sweden and the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain.


1994 USA World Cup Soccer Ball


It was the official match ball of the 1994 FIFA World Cup in USA.

Stage 3: High-tech Composite Materials

The design of the Tricolore ball in the 1998 World Cup in France was inspired by the three-color national flag of the host France and the traditional “rooster” logo of the French nation and the French Football Association.

The biggest innovation is the use of a new composite foam with an internal structure that is tightly packed with elastic bubbles, each of which is closed and filled with gas.

This new composite material is more wear resistant, giving the ball better energy recovery performance, making the ball fly more stable and more accurately.

In terms of printing technology, Tricolore first used transparent printing technology to make the ball pattern more vivid and not easy to be blurred due to wear and tear, and longer life.

1998 France World Cup Soccer Ball

Adidas Tricolore

First multi-coloured ball at a World Cup finals tournament.

The biggest innovation is the use of a new composite foam with an internal structure that is tightly packed with elastic bubbles, each of which is closed and filled with gas.


2002  South Korea  & Japan World Cup Soccer Ball


First World Cup ball with a triangular design. The ball for the 2003 Women’s World Cup was technically identical to the Fevernova, but had a different visual design.

The 2002 FIFA World Cup was co-hosted in Asia for the first time by South Korea and Japan (the final was held in Japan). Initially, the two Asian countries were competitors in the bidding process. But just before the vote, they agreed with FIFA to co-host the event. However, the rivalry and distance between them led to organizational and logistical problems. FIFA has said that co-hosting is not likely to happen again, and in 2004 officially stated that its statutes did not allow co-hosting bids.

2006  Germany World Cup Soccer Ball


The Teamgeist is a 14-panel ball.

A special variant, the gold-coloured Teamgeist Berlin, was used in the final match.


2010  South Africa World Cup Soccer Ball


This ball has 8 panels.

A special variant was used for the final match, the gold Jo’bulani (picture on the left), which was named after “Jo’burg”, a standard South African nickname for Johannesburg, site of the final game.


2014  Brazil World Cup Soccer Ball

It consists of 6 layers of composite material, and the out cover is made up of 6 layers of propeller-shaped polyurethane leather.

The texture on the skin is used to direct the airflow and maintain the stability of the ball in the air.

In order to make the ball smoother, the ball uses thermal bonding technology to make the air flow more smoothly in the groove between the spheres.

The second layer is a closed-cell foamed plastic that prevents moisture from spreading in it.

The third layer is the first layer of fiber reinforced layer, which helps the football to rebound back to its original shape after being impacted.

The fourth layer is an open-cell foamed plastic layer that is very soft and has good elasticity.

The fifth layer is sandwiched between the open-cell foamed plastic layer and the inner liner.

After the football is inflated, this layer is subjected to the maximum pressure.

The sixth floor is the inner tank, full of air.


This is the first FIFA World Cup ball named by the fans. The ball has been made of six polyurethane panels which have been thermally bonded. For the final game, a different colour scheme was used, featuring green, gold and black.

Brazuca Final Rio

Stage 4: Intelligent Technology Implantation

2018  Russia World Cup Soccer Ball

The World Cup ball 2018 in Russia is also called “Telstar”, which aims to pay tribute to the 1970 design.

The new ball maintains its traditional appearance, with black color patches occupying a dominant position, similar in appearance to the 1970 World Cup in Mexico.

The “Telstar”, with some modern craftsmanship and technology, including the implantation of NFC chips.

This is the first time the World Cup has been implanted with NFC chips.

The goal is to allow fans to connect to the game via a smartphone.

There will be a lot of topics around NFC technology.

It is really interesting to put the electronic chip into the football and let the players get a lot of interactive information through the smart phone.

Telstar 18

For the 48 matches in the Group Stage, teams competed with a ball designed in tribute to the original Adidas Telstar;

At the end of the 2018 World Cup group stage, FIFA revealed a new color scheme to be used for the 16 matches played in the Knockout Stage: the Telstar Mechta (Мечта).

Telstar Mechta



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