Why is a Soccer Ball Black and White? 

Why is a Soccer Ball Black and White? 

Last updated on July 19th, 2023 at 01:32 pm

Why is a soccer ball black and white? If you’ve ever wondered about this question, you’re not alone! The iconic color scheme has been around for decades. It’s embedded as part of soccer history.

So, why does a traditional soccer ball have black and white panels? Surprisingly, the answer lies in the history of television and the evolution of soccer ball design.

When soccer was first televised in the 1930s, it was broadcast in black and white. At that time, soccer balls were typically a solid color, which made them difficult to see on screen.

Fast forward and in the 1960s, Adidas changed that by creating the first black and white soccer ball, called the Telstar.

The design featured black pentagons on a white background, which created a visual contrast that made the ball much easier to see on TV.

History of the Soccer Ball

In this section, we’ll take a closer look at the history and evolution of the infamous soccer ball.

Origins of the Soccer Ball

Inside of a Soccer Ball

The first soccer balls were made from materials like inflated pig bladders covered in leather.

These early balls were far from perfect, often losing their shape and becoming lopsided during play.

In the mid-1800s, Charles Goodyear began making soccer balls from vulcanized rubber, providing a more durable and consistent ball for players to use.

Over time, the design of the soccer ball continued to improve and evolve.

In the early 1900s, leather balls with rubber bladders became the norm. Here’s a picture of an old soccer ball…

Then in the 1930s, the first synthetic soccer balls were introduced. These early synthetic balls were made from materials like plastic and PVC, but they were not without their flaws. They tended to be less durable than their leather counterparts and would often crack or split during play.

Evolution of the Soccer Ball Design

In the 1950s, the design of the soccer ball began to change significantly. The traditional 18-panel ball was replaced with a ball made up of just 12 panels, providing a smoother surface for players to kick.

By the 1960s, soccer balls were being made in a variety of colors, with white balls becoming more common for night games.

However, it wasn’t until the 1970 World Cup that the iconic black and white ball that we know today was introduced to the entire world.

The Telstar ball, designed by Adidas, featured 32 black and white panels and was specifically designed to be more visible for people watching the games at home.

This design proved so popular that it has become the standard for soccer balls to this day.

Today, soccer balls are made from a variety of materials, including leather, synthetic materials, and even recycled materials. They come in a variety of sizes and designs, but the iconic black and white ball remains the most recognizable and widely used design.

Here’s a modern take on the traditional black and white soccer ball from Adidas.

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Now you understand why soccer balls are black and white. It’s not just a matter of tradition or aesthetics, but rather a practical consideration that arose from the early days of televised soccer.

The contrast between black and white made it easier for viewers to follow the ball on the screen, and Adidas designed their official game balls with this in mind.

While there may be other colors used for soccer balls today, the classic black-and-white design remains popular and recognizable.

It’s probably worth noting that the pentagon and hexagon shapes of the ball help players with their foot placement and control, making it a functional as well as a visual design choice.

So next time you’re watching a soccer match or playing the game yourself, take a moment to appreciate the history and reasoning behind the black and white ball.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is a soccer ball black and white?

A soccer ball was black and white because it made it easier to see on the black and white television. The contrast made the ball easier to track compared to the previous brown, leather ball.

How many black and white panels are on a soccer ball?

A standard soccer ball has 32 black and white panels. These panels are arranged in a pattern of 12 pentagons and 20 hexagons, with each pentagon surrounded by five hexagons.

Did soccer balls used to be one color?

Yes, soccer balls used to be one color. In the early days of soccer, balls were typically made of leather and were often brown or another dark color.

Beau Bridges - Soccer Novo Hey 👋 I’m Beau. A proud Dad, former coach and soccer enthusiast. I continue to love the game of soccer today the same way I did when I was 7. I created soccernovo.com to share what I know about the game as well as provide a platform so other parents can learn more about youth soccer in the U.S.

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