Now when the FIFA World Cup 2014 is over it is the time to recall the five most innovative football inventions first introduced this summer: the new ball, goal line technology, vanishing foam, super-high-definition TV format and kashirola.
1. Polyurethane Brazuka Ball
The ball is the main protagonist of any football game. The history of soccer balls is reflecting the progress itself inherent to each development era. Until the mid XIX century, the most popular type of a ball was an inflated bovine bladder. The first soccer ball made of rubber was presented 20 years later, in 1855, with the discovery of vulcanized rubber.
Soccer balls made of inflated rubber bladder with the hand-sewn outside leather covering were used during the first FIFA World Cup, held in Argentina in 1930. The first ball with synthetic covering was presented 56 years later at the World Cup 1986 in Mexico. It was called Azteca and unlike the leather covered ball it did not absorb water, retaining the original shape, weight and proper bounce during the game.
Diego Maradona scored a controversial goal against England in the quarterfinals of the Mexican World Cup with the Azteca ball. Later generations of soccer balls were made using individual panels in different segments that make up the outside covering of the ball, which could be either stitched, glued or thermally molded together. Sewn together and inflated panel balls made a nearly perfect sphere and have dramatically increased the quality of the ball during its life span.
This summer Adidas innovative effort named Brazuka (a term used by Brazilians to express “emotion, pride and goodwill to all”) was presented after careful studies of soccer ball existing technologies. Compared with previous models Brazuka became more rounded and has excellent aerodynamic characteristics due to its innovative design. Butyl rubber camera and only 6 panels thermally molded together in a sophisticated curves reduced the size of the wake as the ball moves through the air. Adidas says the technology provides “improved grip, touch, stability and aerodynamics”.
2. Goal line technology
For nearly 20 years the FIFA President Sepp Blatter was unsuccessfully fighting against video replays in football. From his point of view cameras involve too much stopping, starting and waiting. “This is a game for human beings, with errors on the field of play,” he claimed. “Fans love to debate any incident in a game. It is part of the human nature of our sport”.
World Cup 2014 was be the first to deploy goal line technology – a system supplied by the German firm GoalControl with fourteen high-speed cameras positioned along the perimeter of the field, seven cameras at each gate. Position of the ball is constantly tracked and recorded by the 3D cameras which are able to relay a verdict within a second.
3. Vanishing spray
For the first time in the history of the world championships the Japanese referee Yuichi Nishimura applied a vanishing spray, foam, used to indicate the free kick location during Brazil-Croatia match.
This foam is composed of water (≈ 80%), butane (≈ 17%), surfactant (≈ 2%) and other compounds (≈ 1%). When spraying butane forms small droplets of water on the coated surface. A few minutes later the gas escapes and the water evaporates completely.
Apart from marking the point from which the kick itself is taken, it can be used to draw a line on the pitch to keep the wall of players in place. This know-how was highly appreciated by everyone except players who like to go beyond the allotted distances while the referee turns his back and is not looking.
“For the discipline of the game,” says Blatter, “this is very good news”. Moreover the spray is considered to be “not harmful to the players, the field or the atmospheric ozone layer”.
4. Super-high-definition TV format
In 2014, fans were able to enjoy technical innovations: first TV compatible with 4K HD technology – ultra HD with a resolution of 3840 × 2160 pixels. In the past such technology was used by NASA for space images.
Sony, one of the leaders in production of 4K-TV, promised that 4K HD TV owners would be able to enjoy the ultra-high-definition broadcasting during the World Cup 2014. However, it turned out that the available broadcasting capacity in Brazil is simply not sufficient to pass the 4K signal on air. Consequently, 4K digital broadcasting of selected matches (games) had been carried out on special screens in movie theatres.
4K HD TV should be mainstream in a few years. By that time devices that support the 8K format with 7680 × 4320 pixels resolution might be available.
Kashirola became an official musical instrument of the World Cup 2014. It’s a version of a shaker, a sound from which is taken by means of blow. The subjects being in it, make a crackle sound and Brazilians believe that their musical symbol does not make unpleasant loud sounds unlike vuvuzela. African pipe is capable of producing almost 130 decibels of buzz while kashirola is 45 decibels quieter.
Dilma Rousseff, President of Brazil, claimed that kashirola “incorporates all Brazil” spirit on this championship.