Great to finally see the much awaited release of the official pigs bladder to be used for next June and July’s four yearly jamboree – the FIFA World Cup. It’s the ball that some of the world’s most expensive athletic talent will boot around paddocks in qualifying and of course in the crucial final tie on 13 July. An event that will allegedly be watched by the entire planet, a good slice of the solar system not to mention a few other galaxies besides! It’s also the ball that many kids around the globe will cajole their poor parents to buy the following Christmas no doubt! Balls have been at the centre of controversy almost since the inception of the game itself and even more so when things got serious in 1930 which for the unwashed and uninitiated was the first time the Jules Rimet trophy was fought for. Forget cricket’s Duke versus the Kookaburra, hosts and eventual finalists Uruguay and their neighbours Argentina couldn’t agree on which type of ball they would use for the in the first ever World Cup final in Montevideo. This resulted in a different ball being used in each half, one the Argentinian ball and the other the Uruguayan sphere of choice! FIFA found this unsatisfactory and decreed there would be an official ball and more curiously embarked on a program of ridiculous names for said ball. Italy in 1934 saw the ‘Federale 102’ rolled out, ‘Crack’ debuted in 1962 (held not in Ecuador but in Chile) and in 2010 the fêted Jabulani had its moment in the sun in South Africa. Deflatingly in 1938 however it was merely called… ‘Allen’ – go figure! The chosen ball of this quadrennial is the ‘Brazuca’ named after Brasil and unsurprisingly it is thought to be the best ever! Apparently the Jabulani caused untold problems to hapless players but in particular the ‘keepers who felt it didn’t conform to the basic principles of science as espoused by Einstein, Newton, Bernoulli et al. The result? Two and a half years of development, testing and re-testing on a better version of an old favourite by manufacturer and FIFA sponsor Adidas. Somewhat fortuitously, every Adidas ambassador involved in the rigorous program declared it the ‘best ever’. But they would, wouldn’t they!?
Check out a pictorial history of the World Cup ball here at the UK’s Daily Telegraph