To a casual observer, The World Cup’s new official tournament ball, the Adidas Brazuca, looks roughly identical to previous World Cup balls. But the Brazuca is in fact a distinct departure from the Jabulani ball used in South Africa four years ago. The difference? Texture. The latest World Cup soccer ball, two years in development at Adidas, has 50 percent longer seams, which make the ball less smooth and more predictable in flight.
For many years, the trend in soccer balls had been toward a smoother, sleeker surface. Unlike baseball and cricket, which have strict rules about the amount of stitching on their respective balls, soccer has no hard-and-fast stitching rules. As with so many products, development often means sleeker design. But in soccer, sleeker isn’t always better