From the Tango to the Brazuca via the Jabulani: A brief history of the World Cup ball

With the release of the ball that will be used in Brazil next summer, we take a look through the evolution and varied responses its predecessors were met with

Adidas have fuelled the World Cup fire this week with the release of the Brazuca, the ball to be used at next summer's finals. It marks the latest chapter in Adidas' pursuit to make the roundest, most advanced and best ball ever.

But what about its predecessors? From the French Allen of the 1938 finals and the Chilean Crack in 1962 up to the infamous Jabulani at the last World Cup, the ball has always come in for praise and criticism alike and this year's incarnation is sure to spark yet more debate.

A different ball was used in each half in 1930 A different ball was used in each half in 1930  

Way back in the first Fifa World Cup in 1930, Uruguay and Argentina fought out the final using a different ball in each half. Argentina used their pick of the balls in the first 45 minutes and went in leading 2-1 at the break. Uruguay, then armed with their choice, netted three times in the second period to win 4-2 and claim the trophy, coincidence?

From that first World Cup until Mexico 1970 a variety of different balls were used, including the 1966 Special Edition Slazenger that will be forever in the hearts of England supporters.

The Special Edition Slazenger used at the 1966 World Cup The Special Edition Slazenger used at the 1966 World Cup  

The 1970 finals saw Adidas become the powerhouse of World Cup ball design and create the ball for every tournament since.

The Telstar came first. The ball was made up of a 32 panel design and painted black and white to make it more visible for the monochrome televisions of the time.

The next leap in design came in the form of the brilliantly named Tango in Argentina 1978. It would become the stalwart for the next 20 years and, in its day, was the most expensive ball ever made, at £50. Although the design changed very little in that 20 year period, the makeup and technology did. The 1986 Mexico World Cup saw the first fully synthetic ball used and a move away from the heavy, easily waterlogged leather balls of before.

France 1998 saw the introduction of colour into the match balls. The Tricolore was adorned with the colours of the French flag and a Cockerel motif and paved the way for much more elaborate and exciting designs.

The ball used in Korea and Japan in 2002 was to signal a new age of World Cup ball manufacturing. The Fevernova was heavily criticised for ditching the decades old Tango design, for being too light and for contributing to the high number of upsets in that competition's knockout stages. The following World Cup ball used in Germany, the Teamgeist, met similar disapproval but both had it easy in comparison to the condemnation of the Jabulani.

With players branding it supernatural, a beach ball and akin to that of a supermarket ball, South Africa's ball was the most disliked to date. It was to blame for the lack of goals at the beginning of the competition and hated by goalkeepers and coaches throughout the tournament.

The Jabulani was widely derided The Jabulani was widely derided  

This year's ball promises to be the best ever with its rigorous two and a half year testing period. It has been secretly used in matches already to see how it handles on the pitch and is made up of the fewest panels ever which is supposed to reduce drag and bring a truer flight. Meanwhile, its colourful pattern is to mirror Brazil's vibrant culture. Players, coaches and supporters alike will be hoping the troubles of the past don't rear up again and the talking points of this year's tournament will be about the football - not the ball.

Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
tech
News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
books(and not a Buzzfeed article in sight)
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Mystery man: Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike in '‘Gone Girl'
films... by the director David Fincher
News
Kim Jong Un gives field guidance during his inspection of the Korean People's Army (KPA) Naval Unit 167
newsSouth Korean reports suggest rumours of a coup were unfounded
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Life and Style
stoptober... when the patch, gum and cold turkey had all faied
Travel
Bruce Chatwin's novel 'On the Black Hill' was set at The Vision Farm
travelOne of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
Arts and Entertainment
Gay and OK: a scene from 'Pride'
filmsUS film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
News
people
Life and Style
Magic roundabouts: the gyratory system that has excited enthusiasts in Swindon
motoringJust who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?