While the game of soccer has ultimately remained the same over time, the apparel and gear is constantly changing and evolving to bring the game to the next level. First thing that comes to mind is the evolution of cleats and kits over the years, becoming lighter and more advanced then ever before. Many people overlook the number one thing you need to play the game, a soccer ball, and how it’s changed immensely as well. From the first leather ball in 1930 to the adidas Brazuka, the New York Times gives us the ultimate history lesson on the evolution of soccer balls.
Starting in 1930 in Uruguay, soccer balls were hand-sewn and made of leather which often led to imperfections with the biggest problem being the ball was never completely round. The 11 patches were stitched together with laces and had an interior air bladder that made each ball different, leading to inconsistent bounces. The next innovation came 20 years later, with the Superball Duplo T, the first official World Cup ball without laces due to a valce design that allowed the ball to be headed easier, and keep the ball’s shape over time.
Another 20 year pass bringing us to 1970, where the World Cup would be broadcast by satellite, leading to the television friendly black and white design that all of us remember kicking around your respective elementary schools. Not only was the look innovative, the 32 panel design led to the ball being more spherical, allowing for improved control and set a new standard for the next three decades.
Fast forward to 2014, where the adidas Brazuka is the most groundbreaking ball of it’s time due to the heat-sealed, synthetic leather design, and fewer panels for a more aerodynamic seam pattern.
With the 2014 World Cup upon us, it’s important to know the history to really appreciate how the sport got to where it is today. For more information and in-depth looks at the innovation of each soccer ball through the year’s, get your history lesson at the New York Times.