Football. It’s the world’s most popular sport with over 250 million players in over 200 countries. Its popularity stems from the emotions it evokes, strong emotions which for many fans date from birth. It holds the power to drag you in and to lift you into ecstasy. Or agony.
One and all who love the sport have gone through both. Ecstasy and agony, that is. It’s what many across Europe are preparing for right now. 16 countries, after battling through qualification, are embarking on a journey to lift the Trophy: the Henri Delaunay Trophy presented to the winner of the European Football Championships. Euro 2012, contested from 8 June to 1 July, will be hosted by Poland and Ukraine.
Of course, there is a theme of continuity; we’ve lived the process before. Every time football’s leap year occurs again, however, that same excitement arises as the mystery of who will emerge Champions of Europe presents itself. In 2004, it was Greece. In 1992, it was Denmark. The winning team, however, has never been a continuous theme; no team has won consecutive competitions. What has been continuous, since 1984, is the ball.
Tango 12, developed by Adidas, is the official Euro 2012 match ball. The high-tech ball features “a modern interpretation of the design including bespoke graphics designed to represent the two host countries and link to the key characteristics of football – unity, rivalry and passion”. Tango 12, which took over two-years to develop, is rounder than usual with a highly complex surface construction; its outer layer consists of a total of five polyurethane layers. The inner layer acts as an adhesion coating connecting the textile substrate to the other polyurethane layers, whilst the three middle layers vary in thickness and make the surface of the ball highly resistant to external factors and abrasion. The top layer, roughly one millimetre thick, is made up of millions of gas-filled cells which allow the ball to quickly regain its shape after being kicked. What does this all mean in layman terms? The application of polyurethane allows for fewer seams and edges, meaning a smoother surface allowing for “greater precision of control” in all weather conditions and optimal flight!
But like we said, continuity: the first non-leather ball featuring polyurethane technology was the Tango Mundial in 1984. The enhanced layering system of polyurethane material allowed for increased cushioning of the ball resulting in 2.73 goals per match compared to 1.93 in 1980! The Tango Europa followed in 1988 with polyurethane seam sealing to protect the ball against water penetration. The Etrvsco Unico, used at Euro 1992 hosted by Sweden, was the first to include polyurethane foam for improved durability. Every European Football Championship since has used polyurethane in its match ball to ensure, as legendary German manager Sepp Herberger stated, that “Der Ball hat immer die beste Kondition” (“the ball is always in better shape than anyone”).
As you see, “Das Ball ist rund” and like Euro 2012 can roll in any direction. With polyurethane, however, the players are given a bit more control over their destiny and that of their compatriots. On the other hand, the ball is rounder than before…
Luck is wished to all players participating in Euro 2012 and to all fans watching the competition. Hope you enjoy the flying polyurethane as much as us.
Look away now if you don’t want to see one of the most exquisite goals made with a polyurethane ball at a European Football Championship!