The Sport Information Resource Centre
The Sport Information Resource Centre

The soccer world is excited for the 2014 FIFA World Cup hosted by arguably the greatest soccer nation in the world, Brazil. The tournament will take place from June 12 to July 13 with 32 nations vying to hoist the gold FIFA World Cup trophy. Qualifying countries have been drawn into their groups and matches have been set. As in most World Cup of Soccer years, the Brazilian side is one of the favorites to win it all and with home field advantage; it might just make that task a little easier.

One of the most interesting aspects of every tournament is always the soccer ball. In 2006 when the event was hosted in Germany, the ball used was called Teamgeist. This ball had 14 panels, which were thermally bonded. This was a radical change from the traditional ball that had 32 panels and was stitched together.

When the tournament was hosted in South Africa and for the first time on the continent of Africa in 2010, the ball was given the name Jabulani. The ball used in the final match between Spain and Netherlands, the former winning 1-0, was given the name Jo’bulani in reference to Jo’burg, the nickname for Johannesburg where the final match took place. The Jabulani ball had 8 thermally bonded panels to make it more aerodynamic. Unfortunately, since the majority of players found it difficult to control the ball, the reviews were not quite as positive as expected.

The Brazuca, the 2014 tournament ball, will have 6 identical thermally bonded panels for limiting water absorption and 50,000 raised bumps for drainage. This ball will experience many conditions as some games will be played close to temperatures that can reach up to 38 °C while other close to 0 °C. The maximum knuckling effect of the ball will be around 48km/h much less than the Jabulani, which was around 80km/h.

Some interesting facts about the Brazuca:

  • FIFA allows a ball to be 10% heavier when wet, the Brazuca will only be 0.2% heavier.
  • The six identical thermally bonded polyurethane panels interlock like a jigsaw puzzle due to the windmill design
  • The airflow over the Brazuca produces a smaller and more streamline wake for better flight consistency

In this tournament, just like in all other World Cups, the soccer ball will play a starring role. Although the previous two balls did not receive high reviews, the Brazuca follows closer to the traditional 32-paneled stitched ball, with a few innovations thrown in of course. Let the games begin.

References from the SIRC Collection:

1. ADIDAS JABULANI MATCH BALL. Joe Weider’s Muscle & Fitness. June 2010;71(6):64.

2. DELGADO-BORDONAU J, DOMENECH-MONFORTE C, GUZMÁN J, MENDEZ-VILLANUEVA A. Offensive and defensive team performance: relation to successful and unsuccessful participation in the 2010 Soccer World Cup. Journal Of Human Sport & Exercise. December 2013;8(4):894-904.

3. GARDNER P. World Cup balls and sin bins: bad ideas never go away, they just get recycled. World Soccer. January 2014;54(4):19.

4. Soares Leite W. ANALYSIS OF GOALS IN SOCCER WORLD CUPS AND THE DETERMINATION OF THE CRITICAL PHASE OF THE GAME. / ANALIZA GOLOVA POSTIGNUTIH NA SVETSKIM PRVENSTVIMA U FUDBUALU I ODREĐIVANJE KLJUČNIH FAZA U SAMOJ IGRI. Facta Universitatis: Series Physical Education & Sport. September 2013;11(3):247-253.

5. Sakamoto K, Asai T. Comparison of Kicking Motion Characteristics at Ball Impact between Female and Male Soccer Players. International Journal Of Sports Science & Coaching. March 2013;8(1):63-76.

6. SungChan H, Takeshi A. Aerodynamics of Knuckling Effect Shot Using Kick-robot. International Journal Of Applied Sports Sciences. December 2011;23(2):406-420.