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Where does the soccer ball design come from?

Updated: Feb 23, 2022



Have you ever thought about how many black and how many white parts a soccer ball consists of? Here is the design and history of the soccer ball...

Once upon a time, soccer balls were made from inflated pig intestines covered with leather. In China, the version called "Tsu Chu" used balls filled with feathers. In medieval England, players played with balls made by covering liquor bottles filled with cork shavings with leather.

By 1844, Charles Goodyear patented the vulcanized tire. Thus, soccer balls began to take a standard shape for the first time.

Seven years later, H. J. Lindon made an inflatable inner chamber out of rubber. Thus, it would be easier to hit the ball while maintaining the spherical appearance of the ball.

A soccer ball consists of 20 hexagonal white and 12 pentagonal black segments.

White soccer balls became the standard in 1951. In the 1960s, synthetic materials began to be used so that the ball surface could be of equal thickness and its shape would not be deformed. For winter matches, official balls produced in orange were used, as they were more visible under snow.

But the balls of white and black pentagons and hexagons that are famous today were first designed by architect Richard Buckminster Fuller in the 1960s. Fuller was famous for designing buildings that would use minimal materials.

Previously, leather soccer balls were made of 18 sections sewn together: six panels with three sections each. In Fuller's design, there were 20 hexagonal and 12 pentagonal pieces sewn together. Although its official shape is a spherical polyhedron, the design became known as the "buckyball".


The first buckyball used in official football matches was Adidas' Telstar soccer ball. He performed in the 1970 Mexico World Cup finals. Adidas used a pattern of white hexagons and black pentagons to make it easier to see on television screens. This had a benefit for the players as well: Thanks to the black hexagons, it became easier to follow the movement of the ball, so it was easier for them to get used to the spin.


Adidas used the classic white-black color scheme until 2002. However, in the 2006 and 2010 World Cups, the veteran buckyball was replaced by Teamgeist (14-piece) and Jabulani (8-piece), respectively.

Fuller's design later left an indelible mark on the molecular world. In 1996, scientists named Harold Kroto, Robert Curl and Richard Smalley; They named a spherical molecule they discovered, Buckminsterfullerene. This molecule, which led to the Nobel Prize in chemistry, consisted of 20 hexagons and 12 pentagons, as you can imagine.


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