Adidas has designed a new ball for the 2018 World Cup – and it’s a looker. However, a few players out in Russia might not be the biggest fans, not least Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo.
That’s because the boffins at Adidas designed the Telstar 18 to be resilient to excessive amounts of dip and swerve, which should make it harder for specialists like Ronaldo to reproduce the famous ‘knuckle-ball’ free-kicks he’s popularised over the years.
For the first time in a while, Adidas steered clear of marketing its latest World Cup ball as the “roundest ball ever”, instead claiming that it’s the most perfect equipment ever used in the game – the result of three year’s worth of hard graft.
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If the name Telstar sounds familiar, it’s because Adidas has released a World Cup ball under that moniker before. Used during the 1970 World Cup, it was the first to feature black and white panels, designed to stand out on black-and-white TVs.
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The Telstar 18 pays homage to the original Telstar, though there are a number of obvious cosmetic differences, the most notable of which is the introduction of six propellor-shaped panels to (apparently) result in a rounder surface finish.
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Telstar is also the name of the world’s first communication satellite. That could be Adidas’ inspiration for baking an NFC chip into the consumer version of the ball, which is now available in brick-and-mortar stores.
The World Cup ball has changed a lot over the years, starting off life as a rather cumbersome lump of leather, based on a truncated icosahedron. Modern balls, however, are much, much lighter and rounder, thanks to the introduction of new materials and shapes.
Here’s a look at all of the balls used in the World Cup since its inception in 1930.
1930 World Cup Ball – T Model
1934 World Cup Ball – Federale 102
1938 World Cup Ball – Allen
1950 World Cup Ball – Superball Duplo T
1954 World Cup Ball – Swiss World Champion
1958 World Cup Ball – Top Star
1962 World Cup Ball – Crack Top Star
1966 World Cup Ball – Slazenger Challenge 4-Star
1970 World Cup Ball – Adidas Telstar
1974 World Cup Ball – Adidas Telstar Durlast
1978 World Cup Ball – Adidas Tango
1982 World Cup Ball – Adidas Tango Espana
1986 World Cup Ball – Adidas Azteca
1990 World Cup Ball – Adidas Etruscan Unico
1994 World Cup Ball – Adidas Questra
1998 World Cup Ball – Adidas Tricolore
2002 World Cup Ball – Adidas Fevernova
2006 World Cup Ball – Adidas Teamgeist
2010 World Cup Ball – Adidas Jabulani
2014 World Cup Ball – Adidas Brazuca
2018 World Cup Ball – Adidas Telstar 18
It’s unclear if Adidas plans to produce a special edition model of the Telstar 18 for the World Cup Final.
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