FIFA World Cup 2018: Adidas official match ball global business

Adidas Telstar Mechta - InsideSport
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Come Saturday, the FIFA World Cup 2018 will have a new look Telstar Mechta as the official match ball for all the remaining games.

Adidas Football last Tuesday had revealed the Official Match Ball for the knockout stage. This Telstar Mechta comes with a new vivid red design inspired by the colours of the host nation, as well as the rising heat of knockout-stage football. So, the Telstar has officially retired from the FIFA World Cup with the last game Group Stage game on Friday.

Adidas Football has also launched the online sale for the Telstar Mechta, with that goes down the price tag for Telstar 18. As the Telstar Mechta official match ball went on sale at $165 per ball, the price for Telstar 18 is sliced from $165 to $ 124. There are other variants – Replica, Mini and Glider – for the fans the world over, who look around for the World Cup souvenir balls.

This demand creates a billion dollar global market for FIFA’s one of the oldest partners and official ball supplier Adidas. The sales for the previous four editions in the 21st century have gone from six million pieces to the high of 15 million pieces.

The Teamgeist used in the World Cup finals in 2006 have registered the highest sales figures, while for the current edition Adidas has put two variants on sale – Telstar 18 used for the Group stage games and the one Telstar Mechta being used for the knock out stage.

Before moving on to the sales figures for the 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cup finals’ official balls, lets take a look how adidas is capturing this market for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Finals in Russia.

FEVERNOVA – 2002

The official ball for the 2002 World Cup finals in South Korea and Japan, Fevernova has registered a global sale of 6 million pieces. Adidas did not just experiment with the looks, but also continued to change it in terms of technical aspects. The Fevernova was noted by many players for feeling lighter than previous models despite the fact it hit the upper end of the weight limit imposed by FIFA.

David Beckham, an Adidas ambassador who helped to test the Fevernova, backed the manufacturer’s claims that this was a ball as precise as had ever been made.

Gianluigi Buffon had though referred to it as a “crazy bouncing ball”.

TEAMGEIST – 2006

The term Teamgeist – created for the 2006 Germany edition – has till date held the record for the FIFA World Cup official match ball sales. It saw a 250% rise in the sales figures over the 2002 editions as football fans, players, teams and clubs the world over have bought 15 million balls.

The most notable development in 2006 was the introduction of a 14-panel design with fewer seams, which was intended to make the ball rounder and more consistent. It tested better than any ball in the world had at the time of its release.

Some players though complained of a “knuckleball” effect when the ball was airborne, claiming that its flight was too unpredictable. Adidas had produced a custom ball, printed with the fixture details, for every match of the tournament and also introduced a special gold version – the ‘Teamgeist Berlin’ – for the final.

JABULANI –2010

The Jabulani, in spite of being considered the “most famous football ever made” has seen a marginal decline in its global sales – only 13 million pieces sold as against the 15 million sales the previous world cup official ball had recorded.

The ball was so unpredictable for it swing that the goalkeepers had revolted for its notoriety. Julio Cesar compared the Jabulani to the cheap balls sold in supermarkets, while Iker Casillas called it “horrible”. Later, a NASA study had revealed that the Jabulani started to “knuckle” (move in the air) at a higher speed than previous balls because of its smoother surface with fewer seams.

BRAZUCA – 2014

Adidas, following the Jabulani nightmare four years ago, introduced the Brazuca for the 2014 Brazil World Cup Finals. The most-tested ball ever, Brazuca witnessed a relatively better response in terms of global sales. As per Adidas records 14 million Brazuca balls are sold globally.

Brazuca, a slang word for Brazilian, according to FIFA, describes “national pride in the Brazilian way of life”.

It was sent around the world to players, teams and national associations for extensive testing and feedback before the tournament. Adidas even sent a disguised version out to be used in certain league matches.

The Brazuca attracted much less controversy and was adopted by a number of club leagues, including the Bundesliga and MLS.

Telstar 18 & Telstar Mechta – 2018

In November 2017, Adidas had released the Telstar 18 as the official match ball of the 2018 World Cup in Russia. However, a week before the knockout round of 16 to start, Adidas has launched another variant Telstar Mechta as the FIFA World Cup 2018 official knockout ball. Telstar Mechta will now be used all the remaining World Cup games, including the Final, in Russia.

Telstar 18 is a recreation of the first Adidas ball used at a World Cup – the classic 1970 Telstar – and was the first tournament ball since 1994 to be predominantly black and white.

The only colour on the Telstar 18 is the gold Adidas, Telstar and World Cup logos printed on the white surface of the ball, with the black sections given a gradient, mosaic effect.

Like the Brazuca, the Telstar 18 has just six panels but they are arranged in an entirely new shape and give the visual effect of being more like the 32-panel 1970 ball. Telstar Mechta comes with a new vivid red design inspired by the colours of Russia.

These balls are extremely tested and used in various youth competitions, including the Under-20 World Cup, with a different design. Still, the ball has drawn its share of criticism when Spain’s David de Gea and Pepe Reina claimed it to be “strange” as it was more difficult to grip than other balls.

It will be interesting to see how the sales figures turn up!


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