With each FIFA World Cup players complain about the specially designed ball. In 2018, however, they’ve been mostly quiet about the Adidas Telstar 18 ball.
Players haven’t erupted about the new 2018 FIFA World Cup ball. And those early complaints that this Adidas Telstar 18 might rain long-distance scores along unexpected, twisty paths like Wiffle balls have gone quiet.
Some of the 19 MLS players named to final World Cup squads got a chance to try out the ball long before they got named to the tournament. They were part of Adidas’ testers spanning every continent — over 300 professional players on more than 30 leading clubs and federations.
Adidas even used an air gun to shoot the ball against a metal wall. So, after millions of dollars spent on many hours of tests, it surprised everyone that a few problems cropped up.
Adidas Telstar 18 surprises
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The ball popped twice during France’s game with Australia and again during Uruguay vs. Saudi Arabia. Also, some goalkeepers came in early with criticisms of the ball’s flight as well as its thin plastic surface. Spain’s Pepe Reina predicted a lot of long-range goals and difficulties holding the ball. Neither prediction proves true early in the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Adidas designed the Telstar 18 to remind players of the great 1970 World Cup. That was Adidas’ first contribution with the 1970 Telstar ball. The earlier ball had 32 panels compared to this year’s six panels.
The 1970 tournament finished with Brazil and Pele besting Italy for that championship. Using that ball for inspiration ensured players and fans would first look at the ball without suspicion or apprehension. Despite a few pops during play, that strategy worked.
But the ball goes far beyond its inspiration.
Each ball carries inside it a data chip – Near-Field Communication (NFC). Techies needn’t get very excited yet. But definitely, they should take note and become hopeful.
The chip allows interaction with the ball using an NFL-reading smartphone app. Calling up the chip gets little more information about the ball than its unique identifier and basic stored information. But now that Adidas has proved this technological advance works, adding reports on the ball’s speed, height and more should come next.
The Adidas Telstar 18’s lowest-tech feature matches the favorite feature of the 1970 ball. It’s sharp black-and-white contrasts make the sphere easy to follow on television. The brain trusts at FIFA and Adidas are already on standby to start work on the 2022 World Cup ball for Qatar. They won’t reveal anything about what advances this one will boast.
You can rest assured they plan to have it ready to perform in temperatures over 100 degrees F. And you can also bet they’ll make sure France and Uruguay can’t pop it.