For a luminous effect

Argentina’s Lionel Messi with the Brazuca, which will be used in the World Cup in Brazil. It is the first ball to be named by fans, winning nearly 78 per cent of the votes to beat competition from Bossa Nova and Carnavalesca.-

The World Cup will also be about the colourful ‘Brazuca’ and vibrant kit of the participating teams, writes Priyansh.

In the first FIFA World Cup final in 1930, to ensure equal opportunity, Argentina and Uruguay were permitted to use their preferred ball. So the first half was played with the ‘Tiento’, chosen by Argentina, and the final 45 minutes of the tournament saw the use of the ‘T-Model’. Many reckoned that the ‘T-Model’ was larger and heavier, although it is tough to say whether it gave any advantage to the Uruguayans.

Nevertheless, what happened on July 30, 1930 at the Estadio Centenario in Montevideo is worth a mention. Argentina led 2-1 at half-time, only to lose 2-4 in the end. It is intriguing to note that each team bettered the other when its preferred ball was in use. History, though, is silent on any protests over the use of two different balls in the final.

By the time the World Cup moved to France in 1934, FIFA had settled on a ball — Federale 102 — manufactured by ECAS, Rome. Since then, every tournament has featured a single ball, but no ball has had the honour of being used at more than one World Cup though the 1962 edition in Chile was an aberration. The story goes that the European teams didn’t trust the chosen ball and returned to the one used at the previous World Cup in Sweden.

Yet, ever since Adidas gained the right to produce the official match ball for the 1970 tournament in Mexico, such incidents have been pre-empted. While there has been the odd muttering about its shape or flight — the ‘Supernova’ confounded goalkeepers in 2002 — matches have never been influenced by the indispensable sphere.

This time, in Brazil, the ‘Brazuca’ will be in use. It’s the first ball to be named by fans, winning nearly 78 per cent of the votes to beat competition from Bossa Nova and Carnavalesca. The initial response from the players has been positive too.

“Well I think it looks quite impressive. The different design and colours are all about Brazil and Samba football, so it’s really nice. Brazuca is a really clever name as well. It looks like all the balls are the same but there are always a few differences. It’s really useful to be able to train with it before the start of the World Cup,” said Spain striker Fernando Torres.

Not only the ball, Torres will have a new jersey to wear at the World Cup too. As some venues in Brazil are expected to be considerably humid and hot, it’s necessary for the team kit to be lighter. Argentina and Germany will benefit from the German manufacturer’s innovation as well. As football becomes more scientific, it’s not a surprise to note that teams are looking for unique ways to stay ahead.

But the use of science and technology alone doesn’t make a good jersey. You need the colourful flourishes, in addition to the use of cultural symbols. This necessity finds expression in the Argentina kit, as it has been inspired by the country’s first flag, created by General Manuel Belgrano. Belgrano was one of the premier faces of the 19th century Argentine War of Independence.

Spain’s jersey reflects a more recent success in the country’s history. To symbolise the Spanish domination of world football, golden flashes have found a place on the jersey.

Come June, these countries will seek to add the colours of success to their vibrant kit.