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The History of the adidas FIFA World Cup Ball

The History of the adidas FIFA World Cup Ball

Article by: Mitchell Grimes

Tue, Mar 29.22

The History of the adidas FIFA World Cup Ball

In the lead up to the 2022 Qatar World Cup, we take a look back at every single World Cup ball from the brand with the three stripes. 

1970 Mexico FIFA World Cup adidas Telstar

The first-ever World Cup ball was for the 1970 World Cup in Mexico. The ‘Telstar’ was the very first black and white ball, coming from the combination of two words: television and star. It was said at that time that this combination and contrast would amplify the visibility of the balls on both colour and black and white televisions, given that the Mexican World Cup was the first World Cup to be broadcast on TV worldwide.

 Mexico 1970 World Cup Ball

1974 FIFA World Cup Germany adidas Telstar Durlast 

For the 1974 World Cup in Germany adidas kept the Telstar ball used in Mexico, only adding a stronger Durlast layer to prevent the ball getting soaked in water. The only other difference with the ball used in Germany was the updated graphics on the ball.

World Cup Germany Telstar

1978 FIFA World Cup Argentina adidas Tango Durlast

For Argentina 1978 adidas launched a brand new World Cup ball; the Tango Durlast - inspired by the Argentinian dance. The ball was covered in black curved triangles printed on each of the 32 hexagonal panels.

adidas World Cup Tango

1982 Spain FIFA World Cup adidas Tango Espana

Adidas again rolled with the same ball for 2 World Cups - reusing the Tango with minor changes & dubbing it the Tango Espana. The aesthetic of the ball was almost identical the previous iteration as well with just updated world cup graphics.

World Cup adidas Tango Espana

1986 Mexico FIFA World Cup adidas Azteca

For the 1986 Mexico World Cup adidas introduced us to the Azteca - going all out in decorating the ball in honour of the host nation for the first time. The Azteca was also the first ever World Cup ball to be made out synthetic materials.

Mexico 1986 World Cup Ball

1990 Italy FIFA World Cup adidas Etrusco Unico

For Italia 90 adidas launched the Etrusco Unico, covered in Etruscan lions, inspired by the tomb of the roaring lions in the ancient city of Veii. The ball was blessed by the pope before the tournament, however, many blamed the ball for the lack of goals in the tournament.

Italia 90 World Cup Ball

1994 USA FIFA World Cup adidas Questra 

For the 1994 World Cup in the USA adidas produced the Questra - inspired by the 25th anniversary of the apollo 11 mission and the moon landning. The ball used star graphics on the classic Tango panels on what would be the very last black & white World Cup ball.

USA 1994 adidas World Cup Ball

1998 France FIFA World Cup adidas Tricolore

For France 98’ adidas released the first-ever coloured World Cup ball. The Tricolore, inspired by the french flag featured red, blue & white graphics on each panel of the ball and was designed to be more flexible upon strike.

France 1998 adidas World Cup Ball

2002 Korea/Japan FIFA World Cup adidas Fevernova 

One of the most iconic World Cup balls was introduced for the 2002 World Cup in Japan & Korea - the Fevernova. This ball was the first to not feature the tango panel graphics & was the last hand sewn World Cup ball.

2002 Japan/Korea adidas World Cup Ball

2006 Germany FIFA World Cup adidas Teamgeist

The 2006 Teamgeist ball used for the World Cup in Germany was the first ball to feature 14 panels instead of the traditional 32. The reduced number of panels allowed for a cleaner strike of the ball with less chance of hitting the ball where the panels meet.

 2006 Germany adidas World Cup Ball

2010 South Africa FIFA World Cup adidas Jabulani

In 2010, adidas introduced the infamous ‘Jabulani’ ball, South African for ‘rejoice’. The ball featured 11 different colours inspired by the 11 languages & the 11 provinces in South Africa. The ball featured 8 panels, even less than the Teamgeist, causing the ball to be very unpredictable in flight.

2010 South Africa adidas World Cup Ball

2014 Brazil FIFA World Cup adidas Brazuca

The 2014 ‘Brazuca’ endured the most testing a World Cup ball has ever gone through due to the unpredictability of the Jabulani. The colours and ribbon-like pattern on the ball was inspired by the traditional multi-coloured wish bracelets worn in the country ‘fita do Senhor do Bonfim da Bahia’.

2014 Brazil adidas World Cup Ball

2018 Russia FIFA World Cup adidas Telstar 18

For the 2018 World Cup in Russia, adidas took inspiration from the original Telstar from the 70s. The ball was a modern interpretation of the classic Telstar from Mexico. The ball & packaging for the Russian World Cup were also all made from recyclable materials.

2018 Russia adidas World Cup Ball


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