The science behind Brazuca, the official ball of the 2014 World Cup

Jun 9, 2014

By Grabriella Munoz

A conventional soccer ball has 12 black pentagons and 20 white hexagons, good enough for a friendly match with your mates. But that design is so last century when it comes to the innovation needed for the 2014 World Cup.

Researchers in Japan compared the stability of the Brazuca, the official ball of this year’s World Cup, with other soccer ball designs used over the past five years, including the 14-panel Teamgeist 2, which was introduced in the 2008 Euro Cup, and the Jabulani, which was used at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

They tested the balls in wind tunnels to see if the wind changed the trajectory mid-air or if it affected the side and lift forces. Over at the LA Times Karen Kaplan explains the results of three tests:

The wind tunnel experiments revealed that the Brazuca was tops when it came to the stability of the drag forces (or air resistance) acting on the ball. All of the balls were tested in two different orientations, and the results for the Jabulani and the Cafusa were quite different depending on which side of the ball was facing into the wind. But the plots for the Brazuca were nearly identical in both conditions.

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