1963 Santiago – Picture provided by Jacques Barralon
1963 Leather Soccer Ball
White Santiago version of the “unofficial” World Cup 1966 England Ball (courtesy of carlos del castillo)
Synthetic Soccer Balls
It was not until the 1960’s that the first totally synthetic ball was produced. But it was not until the late 1980’s that synthetic leather totally replaced the leather ball. Up until then, it was felt that leather soccer balls provided more of a consistent flight and bounce. Synthetics used in today’s soccer balls emulate the cell structure and quality of leather with less water absorption.
Early footballs were sewn up with laces. These days, footballs are made from synthetic leather patches sewn together in a design based on the ‘Buckminster Ball’ or known as the Buckyball. The American architect Richard Buckminster Fuller came up with the design when he was trying to find a way for constructing buildings using a minimum of materials.
The shape is a series of hexagons, pentagons and triangles, which can be fitted together to make a round surface. The modern soccer ball is essentially a Buckminster Ball consisting of 20 hexagonal and 12 pentagonal surfaces. When they are sewn together and inflated they make a near perfect sphere. The black spots on the ball helped players to perceive any swerve on the ball.
The first 32-panel ball was marketed by Select in the 1950s in Denmark. The first “official” FIFA world cup soccer ball was the Adidas Telstar used in the 1970 world cup at Mexico. As shown above it was also the first official World Cup Buckminster type soccer ball. Click on the following for more information on:
For more information on the construction of today’s soccer ball, Soccer Ball Construction.
NASL Ball from the 1970’s
(above picture compliments of Miguel Ángel Rodríguez Fernández)
2000 and Beyond
Developments in soccer ball design is continuing. Many companies have recently come out with new high tech materials and designs for soccer balls. The object is to develop the optimum soccer ball that is flight accurate, water proof, fast in flight and transfers all of your kicking force to the ball (does not absorb energy), has soft feel, and is safe to head the ball. Optimum soccer balls should also adhere to ball specifications given by governing bodies such as FIFA.
New balls such as Adidas’ Teamgeist, Jabulani, Roteiro, Finale and Fevernova, Nike’s Nike Seitiro Premier, Geo Merlin, Puma’s Shudah, and Mitre’s ISO use the latest design innovations and high tech materials. For more information on the latest innovations, check out Soccer Ball World’s Soccer Ball Developments page.