Why are Soccer Balls Black and White: Finding the Answer

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Soccer is a famous sport around the world. And the image of black and white soccer balls has been imprinted in our minds. However, have you ever wondered why are soccer balls black and white? Let’s learn with Scott Fujita the evolutionary journey of the soccer ball to become what it is now!

Why are Soccer Balls Black and White?

The reason the soccer ball is black and white is to make it easier to see on a black and white television screen. The contrast between black and white makes it easy for onlookers to follow the path of the ball as it moves around the field.

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The reason why we had black and white soccer ball

The first full football match to be televised live on TV anywhere in the world was the FA Cup Final between Preston North End and Huddersfield on 30 April 1938, in England.

However, there were too few TVs in the country at the time and it is believed that more people could watch the match live at the stadium than on TV.

At this time and up until the 1970s, black and white televisions were more popular than color TVs because the color TVs we still have are still too expensive for most people. This means that most people watch football matches on a black and white screen.

One major problem with this is that on a black and white screen, the ball is notoriously difficult to track.

The first soccer ball was made of leather. They are heavy, hard and monochromatic. When you’re watching a soccer game, it’s not too difficult to keep track of where the ball is going. The following the movement of the ball is an entirely different challenge. Adidas decided to do something about it for the 1970 FIFA World Cup in Mexico.

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The classic black and white soccer ball evolution

Soccer balls have come a long way since the days of leather-covered inflated pigs. The original ball was sewn with laces and was much heavier than today’s balls. 

The soccer game has its origins in the Han Dynasty in China, which occurred between 206 and 220 AD. To be fair, the first soccer ball they used back then wouldn’t be the synthetic ball of today. They were and most likely made from the bladder of farm animals such as pigs.

Charles Goodyear paved the way for modern soccer when he began making his patented vulcanized rubber balls. 

Using leather as their material, manufacturers eventually discovered that using pieces of leather in hexagonal and pentagonal shapes produced the most rounded shape.

1. Buckyball

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Buckyball is made from leather or bladders

A soccer ball has 32 panels stitched together, 20 of which are hexagons and 12 of which are pentagons. The name of this shape is buckyball, and it is named after architect Richard Buckminster Fuller around 1844. He was trying to build a building with minimal materials when he came across this shape. 

The color of the soccer ball at this point ranges from light brown to dark brown. Eventually, they begin to be dyed white. The official name of this shape is a spherical polyhedron and it is a perfectly spherical shape, making for a significant improvement on previous soccer balls.

2. The Telstar 

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Adidas has created the Telstar soccer ball black and white

First introduced at the 1970 World Cup in Mexico, Adidas’ now iconic 32 panels truncated the cubic design, consisting of 20 white hexagons and 12 black pentagons. Adidas also designed the official soccer balls for the 2018 World Cup. The reason is to help viewers see the black and white soccer ball clearly on Television.

The reason why a soccer ball is made up of hexagons and pentagons is that the specific combination of those shapes has created the ideal shape for a soccer ball known as a round polyhedron or icosahedron block.

The ball was called the Telstar. Due to its resemblance to the Telstar communications satellite, which was the first satellite to send live television signals. 

The Telstar ball was made of leather. Only 20 were supplied for the 1970 World Cup and an estimated 600,000 copies were subsequently sold.

3. The Telstar soccer ball become legendary

Telstar ball has become a tradition, with all World Cups up to 2006 using the Telstar design. Other tournaments, such as the domestic ones, also adopt Telstar’s design for the same reason. So that the audience watching on black and white television can easily see the ball. 

The pattern, consisting of black pentagons and white hexagons, remains the same.

Telstar’s iconic black and white placards are what many people think of when they imagine a soccer ball. Countless pictures and drawings of soccer balls still show a ball with a black and white board. 

Although this style has not been used at major tournaments, including the World Cup, for decades.

4. Modern soccer balls

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Modern soccer balls used synthetic leather as material

The soccer ball used in modern soccer is almost exclusively made of leather or synthetic materials. In the 1960s, the first synthetic soccer balls were produced. Development continued as soccer manufacturers sought to make them better.

The first synthetic ball used at the FIFA World Cup was in Mexico in 1986 with the fitting name ‘Azteca’. Even though it’s made of synthetic material, it’s still hand-stitched. The panels still follow the hexagons and pentagons of previous soccer balls.

It wasn’t until the 2006 World Cup in Germany that the ball used to have a curved plate. In the case of ‘Teamgeist’, as the ball is called, there are 14 of these plates.

Synthetic materials do not absorb moisture. That’s their strong benefit. Those of a certain age will remember the days when the ball was twice as heavy when played in the rain!


Through this article, the answer to the question of why soccer balls are black and white has become clear. The creation of black and white soccer balls is because we want to let the audience watch football through the black and white TV screen more clearly. After many years, along with the development of technology, football has changed and has many different colors.

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