Why Are Soccer Balls Black And White? | Black And White Soccer Ball

Black And White Soccer Ball

A soccer ball is a requisite item for one to be able to play soccer. You just need a ball, and then you are good to go. However, have you ever questioned why most soccer balls are in two colors: black and white? In popular cultures, a ball is portrayed as a black and white soccer ball and if you ask most people to draw a soccer ball they would probably draw it black and white. In this article, we are going to discuss the history of the soccer ball, how soccer has developed over the years and the reason why the ball is black and white.

Black And White Soccer Ball

The earliest soccer balls

Soccer first appeared in the Han Dynasty in China which took place between 206 and 220 AD. In fact, the ball that they would have used at that time was not made of synthetic material like the one we use at present. Instead, they would probably use inflated bladders of farm animals, for example, pigs. They stuffed feathers in a ball made from pigs

Before the appearance of the black and white soccer ball like today, the ball was made from leather panels stitched together and then inflated. A lace was used to tie the outer panels closed in those soccer balls, especially at the time of the introduction of inflatable rubber bladders.

You would be surprised to know that soccer owes a lot to Charles Goodyear, the father of motorsports, whose name is given to tires used around the world. Thanks to his vulcanized rubber process, the bladders inside soccer balls became possible, making the balls themselves more flexible and bouncier as well as cold- and heat-resistant.

In 1862, H.J Lindo who was English leatherworker manufactured the first inflatable soccer ball. This ball consisted of a rubber bladder, which allowed the ball to keep its shape better and help players kick the ball more easily.

The evolution of the ball continued, in 1951 soccer balls were colored fully white, which became the typical design around the world at the time. A decade later, synthetic materials were introduced in the manufacturing of a soccer ball to ensure the ball could retain its shape better over a long period.

 The laws of the game for soccer balls

The rules in terms of the black and white soccer ball are fairly simple and straightforward as presented by the Internal Football Association Board in the Laws of the Game. The specifications for a black and white soccer ball are as follows:

  • A circumference is between 68 centimes (27 inches) and 70 centimeters (28 inches)
  • The weight at the start match of a soccer ball is between 410 grams and 450 grams, which is equivalent to 14 and 16 ounces respectively
  • Air pressure at start level (inflated) equals to 0.6 – 1.1 bars (8.5 – 15.6 pounds per square inch)

According to the rule, it states that the black and white soccer ball must be made of a ‘’suitable’’ material. It means that the ball covers all the synthetic materials used in the modern soccer balls. Not to mention, the laws also notes about the black and white soccer ball must be spherical because other shapes would be difficult to play for others. The laws cover most of the scenarios where a soccer ball has been out of the shape due to deflation. Furthermore, the laws also covers whether a ball would be replaced in case of being defective as well as the use of extra soccer balls that are put around the field of the play.

If the ball becomes defective at a kick-off, goal kick, corner kick, free kick, penalty kick or throw-in play the restart is re-taken. While the ball becomes defective during a penalty kick or kicks from the penalty marks as it moves forward and before the ball touches a player, crossbar or goalposts, the penalty kick is re-taken. Without the referee’s permission, the black and white soccer ball will not be allowed to change during the match. The use of additional balls must meet the requirement of Law 2 in the Laws of the game of soccer balls, and their use is under the referee’s control.

Black and white soccer ball

Black and white soccer balls were first used at the 1970 World Cup in Mexico. This design was chosen specifically so spectators who were watching in black-and-white television could see clearly the ball. The contrast between the two colors made it easier for a person’s eye to pick it up and harder to lose sight of it. The opposing colors even helped the viewer to recognize the direction the ball was spinning. Before the introduction of this ball, the soccer ball was completely colored in white, which was difficult to see on the television at that time.

According to FIFA, there are 32 leather panels on a standard white and black soccer ball. These 32 panels that are appearing on sizes 5, 4 and 3, are hexagonal and pentagonal shapes. These panels are made of leather or synthetic lather.

The reason why there are 32 panels is 20 hexagons and 12 pentagons in the ball. Each 6-sided hexagon is colored in white and surrounding each 5-sided black pentagon. As a result, none of the pentagons touch each other. And that explains why the distinct design of the black and white soccer ball is so easily recognizable.

To be able to create a perfectly spherical shape which fits together like a puzzle, the black and white soccer ball has to be made with hexagons and pentagons. This ball is also called a “buckyball” because this ball helps players track the movement of the ball more easily during the match.

In 1970 World Cup Adidas created the now-iconic Telstar soccer ball. This introduction of the Telstar ball was a revolution for soccer. There is only one design of a soccer ball until now. The design of the ball has been becoming lodged in mind of soccer’s lovers. That fact of the white and black color of a soccer ball became the reality for everyone watching.

Modern Soccer Balls

The modern soccer balls nowadays are made mostly from synthetic materials. As mentioned above, the first synthetic soccer balls were introduced in 1960s, and they have been developed better.

In 1986, the first debuted in World Cup in Mexico, the Adidas Azteca was introduced a triad design. It became the first fully synthetic/polyurethane-coated soccer ball, increasing durability and further minimizing water absorption.

The Adidas Telstar 18 soccer ball is a new version of the original Telstar ball, and it was launched in the television in 1970. The Telstar was the official soccer ball for the 2018 World Cup hosted in Russia. In the new version, the black and white soccer ball kept the pentagons stretched into pixelated gradients. In addition, the black and white soccer ball includes an embedded NFC chip, which is the first official match ball with an embedded chip.

At World Cup in Germany in 2006, the design of the Adidas Teamgeist was 14 curved panels bonded together, so that more rounded shape is created to perform more consistently due to the angle it is kicked.

Wilson Traditional is designed for the purists, with its iconic hexagonal and pentagonal. The traditional colors: black and white still remains the same. The ball is used in 70s. While Nike Strike is designed with many accent color to compliment the black bolded pentagonal lines. The ball has 12 panels which are mostly outlined with black bolded lines, breaking up the large white-colored areas of the ball.

The official balls used for the 2019-20 English Premier League is Nike Premier League Merlin soccer ball. The ball is still keeping the classic black and white soccer ball, but there is a splash of racer pink. This ball reveals a uniquely designed ball with high-contrasting graphics.

The Future

The design of soccer ball has evolved and changed multiple times. Today, you see balls with multiple colors and patterns on them. There is no more just black and white soccer ball these days. But for whatever reason, the idea about black and white soccer ball still remains to this day and is what many people have come to expect.

The new material with new view of a soccer ball has continued to develop day by day. This means that there will be an updated ball with more accuracy when it is in the air, and more power generated from a player shooting. This ball would be harder, travel faster through the air, and allow for greater bend when a player is taking a direct shot at goal.


We hope that this article has answered any questions and you have learned about the reasons behind a black and white soccer ball. Moreover, through this article, you can learn more about the history, the development of a soccer ball and the evolution of soccer balls over years through different matches around the world.

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