Essential Brazuca

By: Joel Marino

You’ve probably seen it by now, its perfect white circumference elegantly adorned with whirling, psychedelic lines so pretty the World Cup kickoff can’t come soon enough. Which will be Thursday, June 12, 5pm Sao Paulo time, in case you hadn’t marked your calendar yet.

But we digress. We were talking about the Brazuca, Adidas’s latest official ball for the World Cup, introduced last week. And because so much depends on this ball’s performance, here’s a list of five things every soccer buff should know about her. (Yes, she’s a female to most of us: la pelota.) 

1. Playing the name game

“Brazuca” is a friendly slang word for the Brazilian way of life. It was chosen last year through an online poll, marking the first time fans picked the official match ball’s name. One million Brazilians cast their vote, with the winner garnering an overwhelming 77%. The follow-up was Bossa Nova, which was our choice after we realized no one seemed to be behind Tropicália.

2. A ball with a social-media addiction

Brazuca also made history as the first match ball with its own social-media presence. Its Twitter page, which broadcasts in English and Portuguese, already has more than 98,000 followers. Its launch was also preceded by an interactive YouTube short that let the viewer see soccer plays through the ball’s POV. The Brazuca doing some selfies when Brazil scores can’t be far away.

3. Keeping it in the family

This is Adidas’s 12th World Cup ball since the sports giant began producing them for FIFA in the ’70s. Not all of them have been classics, though. The Jabulani, the official ball of the last World Cup, was considered so erratic, even NASA declared it the worst ball ever.

4. The most-tested ball in history

Maybe because it’s trying to avoid another Jabulani fiasco, Adidas had 600 players in 30 professional teams test the ball before its launch. They even made sure to get reigning soccer god Leo Messi’s endorsement. No word yet on what the goalies of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iran and Nigeria (which will have to face Argentina in the first round) think of the prospect of the Brazuca on Messi’s feet...

5. Round is beautiful—and ephemeral

The beautiful game needs a beautiful sphere, and this ball delivers. Its revolutionary six-panel design (two less than the Jabulani, while the 1970 Telstar had 32) is supposed to keep it perfectly round and lightning-fast through the whole game. And as with all World Cup balls, it will not be available forever, so grab one (there are two versions, at $30 and $160) before this garota is gone forever.

Joel Marino is a NYC-based freelance writer and editor who enjoys traveling and saying “I told you so” as much as possible. When not writing, he spends his time on a never-ending quest to find the perfect empanada.