The World Cup 2014 ball, the Brazuca, is the twelfth incarnation of Adidas’ footballs created for the world’s biggest footballing event. Colourful, exotic and a technological marvel for the industry, the Brazuca has delighted players in training, had fans clamouring for their own replica, and is set to be the most popular World Cup ball yet, with a tournament held in South America deserving of a ball to stand the test of time.
A host of mightily impressive national sides are just itching to fight it out to be named world champions in Brazil, this summer’s event will not only a contemporary extravaganza, but a classic throwback, with the tournament triumphantly returning to the ‘home of football’ in South America.
Brazil 2014 promises to be one of the most vibrant, exciting and competitive World Cups in the long history of the tournament, and the Brazuca ball will be hoping to perfectly compliment it.
Brazuca – The Name:
Adidas’ twelfth World Cup ball is the first to be named by the fans. Over one million Brazilian fans cast their vote, with Brazuca emerging as the clear winner with 77.8%, beating both the Bosa Nova (14.6%) and the Carnavalesca (7.6%).
‘Brazuca’ is an informal term used by Brazilians to describe national pride in the Brazilian way of life. As is with their universally acclaimed approach to football, it symbolises emotion, pride and goodwill to all.
Brazuca – The Production:
Born and raised in Pakistan, the Brazuca’s inception marks a return to the spotlight for a country which was once responsible for 70% of all footballs imported by the USA. The Pakistani ball industry once created the Tango ball for the 1982 World Cup, but allegations of child labour, infrastructure handicaps, and Pakistan’s tarnished image saw the industry all but obliterated by 2007.
However, thanks to the efforts of Khawaja Akhtar, a Sialkoti entrepreneur, Pakistan have been ushered back into the beautiful game.
With Adidas’ Chinese ball supplier struggling under the weight of demand, Akhtar, an avid football fan from birth, invited representatives to his factory in Sialkot, but the first meeting was a dismal failure, as he was told that he was working with ‘stone age equipment’ in eastern Pakistan.
Akhtar had previously secured deals to supply the French Ligue 1, the German Bundesliga and the Champions League; but he had only 33 days in which to persuade Adidas to agree to the biggest deal of his career, and of Pakistan’s modern sporting industry.
He succeeded, overcoming the greatest challenge of his life, and the Brazuca will be the vehicle of reprieve for the previously chastised nation during a tournament that will see the whole world unite.
Brazuca – The Science:
Adidas’ previous offering, the ‘Jabulani’, was not a success, with the ball roundly critisised for being unpredictable when struck, causing mayhem for goalkeepers during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
The Brazuca will be looking to right the wrongs of its predecessor.
Weighing in at just 437 grams, and with a 0.2% water retention rate, the ball is surrounded by six propeller-shaped polyurethane panels, thermally bonded together. Between the seams, the Brazuca’s geometry is different to other balls, helping it remain more stable in the air (hopefully erasing all memory of the Jambulani).
‘The most important thing on the soccer ball is how much roughness you have,’ Dr Rabi Mehta, an aerodynamics expert at Nasa’s Ames Research Center in California, told the BBC.
‘The smoother you make the ball, the higher the speed at which it knuckles,’
‘In essence what happened in my opinion is that with the traditional ball, the critical speed at which you got maximum knuckling was lower than the typical kicking speed in World Cup soccer.
‘By making the ball smoother, that critical speed went up and happened to coincide with the typical kicking speeds, about 50 to 55 miles (80 to 88 kilometres) per hour, especially in free kick situations.’
The ball has undergone an extensive trial period, and has been tested in the Under-20 World Cup, the German cup(DFB pokal) final, as well as disguised as the ‘Adidas Cafusa’ in international friendly matches.
Brazuca – The Players’ View:
Julio Cesar, Brazil – ‘The ball is a good one.’
Steven Gerrard, England – ‘I don’t think anyone will have anything negative to say about Brazuca. I think the feedback from players will be really positive.’
Lionel Messi, Argentina – ‘I’ve had the opportunity to test Brazuca and it’s great.’
Dani Alves, Brazil – ‘My first impression of brazuca is of a ball that is fantastic and we’re going to have a lot of fun with it’.
Brazuca – The World Cup Final Ball:
Adidas have created a custom Brazuca ball for the final in Rio de Janeiro, with the ball undergoing a gold and green makeover.
The design is inspired by the colour of the famous World Cup trophy; a fitting final ball to what will surely be a tournament to remember.
Brazuca – The Best Ever?
Only time will tell if the Adidas Brazuca, with all the advances in the industry, goes down as the very best ball to grace a World Cup Finals. It certainly has the backing of the players and fans, as you can see in the official video released at its unveiling last year:
There is a lot riding on the Brazuca from Adidas’ point of view, but considering the journey it has undertaken, the preparation and the science behind it, Brazil 2014 couldn’t have a better ball to boot around this summer.