World Cup Match Balls: a History

Adidas has supplied official match balls for the world cup finals since 1970. Here we trace their design evolution from Telstar to Brazuca back to Telstar 18

Richard Buckminster Fuller is perhaps an unlikely hero for the average football fan but the game owes the great man a considerable debt: the modern football is based on Buckminster Fuller’s research into geodesic domes. Thus, the first World Cup balls produced by adidas were made up of 20 hexagonal and 12 pentagonal panels. Black panels were added to allow players to pick up spin or swerve more easily. Originally made of hand-stitched leather, the 1986 tournament was the first to feature an entirely synthetic ball. Over the years, foam layers were introduced to aid waterproofing and touch while, from 2006 onwards, adidas has experimented with the number and shape of panels used. In reverse order, here’s our history Adidas World Cup balls since 1970: