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FIFA 2018 Telstar Football

The second part in our World Cup Technology series features the World Cup ball - the Adidas Telstar 18. The newest entrant into the famous FIFA World Cup balls list.

About the ball

Each World Cup, Adidas designs the official ball that is to be used in the tournament. The World Cup football is arguably the most important piece of equipment. Adidas has manufactured the official match ball for every World Cup since 1970, using the event as a showcase for its latest technical innovations. The Telstar 18 is a reinvention of the classic 1970 World Cup model with a brand-new panel design and the latest technology, bringing back memories from the famous event of 1970.

The name of the original Telstar came from its status as the “star of television”. The first ball to be decorated with black panels, the pattern was designed to stand out on black-and-white TVs. The Telstar 18 has six panels and a black-and-white design inspired by Russian cityscapes.

Technological aspect

From a technological point of view, the Telstar 18 features a new carcass, a new technology and sustainable elements in the form of recycled packaging. The ball includes an embedded NFC (Near-field communication) chip, which enables fans to interact with the ball using a smartphone. NFC is the technology that powers Apple Pay and Android Pay. The personalized location-aware experience displays specific details of each ball and provides access to challenges which fans can enter in the run-up to the FIFA World Cup. The NFC chip software was designed by Blue Bite, allowing the fans the opportunity to revisit and to get some new content.

The Structure

With a more aerodynamic structure, the ball has been stitched and designed in such a way that it avoids the embarrassment of the ‘Jabulani’. The Jabulani was the Adidas designed official ball of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The ball was too smooth in its shape and structure causing it to wobble and behave in abrupt ways when in the air, much to the displeasure of a lot of the players especially the goalkeepers. The Telstar 18, like the Brazuca - the official ball of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, has six panels, the seams of which have been designed a bit shallower and narrower, but the seam length is kept 30 percent longer.

What’s in store then?


Adidas, some time back had released a smart ball called the miCoach. It had sensors which used to track metrics like speed and trajectory. It’s durability in the game, however, was an issue, meaning that the ball couldn’t be used in a game situation. The NFC chip enables Adidas Telstar 18 to be an interactive football. The chip adds a new dimension to fan interaction during a tournament. A special identifier must be activated via a smartphone which will enable the fans to unlock exclusive information about the World Cup and even the ball itself on a weekly basis. Retrieving of the game data through the ball remains quite distant as it stands; the NFC chip though, presents a good starting point for the football to be used as a more innovative front for the game.

Sports Science

The ideal soccer ball is a pimple-covered, perfect sphere; its surface is textured enough to keep the airflow around the ball slightly turbulent. It might not seem too obvious but it’s these ridges and pimples that make the ball more aerodynamic, assisting it to fly through the air in a more stable manner. It has pimples and six panels designed in such a way that it avoids knuckling in the air.

The Telstar 18 is not expected to fly quite as far down the pitch and will wobble in the air a little differently, but intensive aerodynamic tests suggest that the ball will be a lot more stable in the air compared to its previous versions. The tunnel tests by John Eric Goff, Professor of Physics at the University of Lynchburg say that the Telstar 18 has a very similar aerodynamic profile to the 2014 Brazuca ball, which flew without the wobbles that 2010 ball did.

The Adidas Telstar 2018 is expected to be a near perfect football. The tests have been intensive and have legitimatized the ball on all accounts. Safe to say, any deviations and mishandlings of the ball now will all be down to the players!


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