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.

Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little