The Science behind the FIFA ball

It is one week into the FIFA World Cup Group Stages in Russia. Already some predictions were upset maybe due to referee, VAR(video assistant referee), new grappling technique interpretations of the by-laws; but no upsets by virtue of immaculate pitches, extra-ordinary weather and football hooligans with refuse bags cleaning up after the world-class stadiums after the final whistle has been blown.

I was a guest blogger on SuperSport back in 2010, and the subject of the football flight with the different FIFA ball is a talking point. Are we expecting more goals than previous tournaments?

The differently manufactured football is not due to the basic properties (mass, weight, core layer), but rather the aesthetic details. The outer layer can be made more “smoother” in some cases because of its larger panels, seams and design can cause “roughness” for the alteration in football flight. Understanding Biomechanics (is the field of science dealing with the aerodynamics of the football) of the air resistance and the velocity of the foot-implement moment is stringently tested by the relevant authorities before any patent is released.

I wrote back in 2010, that the Jabulani Ball designed by Adidas (they all are designed by Adidas) did produce unusual ball flight possibly due to the smoother surface panels, and there were on average less goals scored compared to the Brazuca Ball used in 2014 (If the ball striker is perplexed with the Jabulani ball flight, then the chances of uncertain reaction times by goalies are always negated-my conclusion). The science says that the lateral movement of the football… is determined by the higher pressure resulting towards the least resistance when the ball flight generally decreases its ball flight (towards the optimum velocity) in the descending-final stage of the football flight.

An excellent description of the Magnus Effect and the bernoulli correction in the football flight can be deciphered by investigating the free kick taken by David Beckham in the Euro qualifier when the football took on new dynamics that could be explained for the future manufacturing of the ball. Keeping in mind, that there has been no significant changes, historically the wet weight of the leather balls lead to increased concussions with studies in the early tournaments of the FIFA World Cup

The ball design is different every four years for reasons not to increase the spectator value of unpredictable ball flight but rather the licensing and patent by Adidas allows the inflated sales of replica balls add to the euphoria of memorabilia and merchandise on the biggest sporting stage worldwide.


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