The ball that we kick to the Opening Ceremony of the World Cup is always the official World Cup ball for that tournament. If we’d had the idea in 1974, these are the balls we’d have been kicking:
According to FIFA, this was the first ball with 32 black and white panels to make it more visible on black and white television screens.
Supposedly a more design representing “elegance, dynamism and passion”!
This ball’s innovation was its waterproof design.
The first synthetic match ball
The first ball with an internal layer of foam
Designed to fly faster through the air
The first multi-coloured ball
Apparently this is the most accurate ball to date — the seams on the official ball (not the replica pictured here) are flush to the surface and should cause less air turbulence as it flys
Here’s another report, this time from the Thüringer Allgemeine (UPDATE: you can find the original German article here):
Globetrotter with football
The most attractive spin-off from next year’s world championship has got better still. Christian Wach, from England, proclaims the spirit of football and in Erfurt he met plenty of soulmates.
Instead of a diplomatic passport he has a football in his pocket. Instead of classy tweeds he wears baggy jeans and so is always up for a kickabout in the street. Christian Wach, from London, is an ambassador for football and this week presented his credentials to Erfurt’s privy council for world championship matters, the “Spirit of Football” association.
“I am a fan of football and not of any particular team,” he says, setting the record straight from the start. So: not one of England’s uncouth itinerant brawlers. Rather he’s a globetrotter in football matters and came on his fellow aficionados via their website, “spirit-of-football.com.” Hardly surprising: his website has the same name, apart from the hyphens.
“I shall be back for the big game”, he said yesterday, taking leave of his new friends. Meaning the 24-hour match on a specially created sand-pitch at Brühl which the Spirit of Football association hopes will be the high point of activity in Erfurt during the world championship.
In the meantime Christian Wach will be on his travels. In 2002 he made the long overland pilgrimage to that championship’s host country South Korea. The opening match in 2006 will likewise be the conclusion of a tour, a tour on which he — like the Erfurters — sees football first and foremost as the basis for friendship.
Four years ago he set up a match with Tibetan monks and kicked around with Uzbek children; this time Belgium and Switzerland are en route. He would like to play at Ypres, where in the First World War enemy soldiers took part in a historic match during a Christmas break in hostilities; and launch a friendly assault on FIFA’s headquarters in Zurich. Before he then moves to the opening game in Munich comes the match at Point Alpha: Spirit-of-Football v. spiritoffootball. Also early on his schedule is a making flying visit to London’s Hackney Marches where amateur players from 130 countries come together every weekend: exactly as per the Erfurt motto “Fans will be friends.”
Christian Wach, a multimedia specialist, turned his Korean trip into a film. It doesn’t just show the interview he gave to CNN in Seoul. We see him juggling in Red Square and kicking a ball over the Great Wall of China.
In Uzbekistan he made a detour to visit the grave of his grandfather. “He was born in America, my grandmother comes from Slovakia, and my mother from Germany. I’m just a human being.” It’s unlikely he will find traces of his forebears in Thuringia. His mother’s family hails from Mecklenburg.
Many thanks to John Taylor for the translation.
Here’s a copy of some coverage that we (both Spirits of Football) were given recently in the Thüringer Landes Zeitung. Many thanks to John Taylor for a translation of the article. (UPDATE: you can find the original German article here)
“The Ball” on the Petersberg
At the Olympics it’s the blazing torch that’s carried across the world to its destination â€“ for the world soccer championship it’s “the Ball” that’s kicked from Battersea Park, in London, to next year’s opening game in Munich. Kicked by football fans accompanying Christian Wach, from Bristol (UK), and by everyone, young or old, they meet en route.
Erfurters included: this coming year “the Ball” will dribble and bounce through Erfurt before coming to rest in Munich — for the fellow “Spirits of Football” from Erfurt and Bristol have joined forces. It’s both the name of Christian’s initiative — and the name of the Erfurt association set up by New Zealander Andrew Aris. He wants to make the capital a centre of sporting and cultural activity for the 2006 World Cup and, as reported in the TLZ, has secured prime minister Dieter Althaus as patron. Beach soccer and a beach cocktail bar to be built at Brühl are part of this — as is a 24-hour football marathon on the Petersberg with “the Ball” which should by then have arrived in Erfurt.
It will arrive covered in signatures, since all who join in can leave their mark on the leather, just like at the 2002 World Cup in Seoul. “Football knows no frontiers and is not bothered about borders, we play as ambassadors for international understanding”, says Christian explaining the idea behind his sporting enterprise.
In this spirit, “the Ball” travelled along the Great Wall of China in 2002 and was the focus of a friendly match with monks in Tibet who wore the shirt of their favourite team under their robes — and in 2006 is set to bridge the former German-German border at “Point Alpha,” between Hesse and Thuringia. “The wall and the frontier have gone as structures but not yet in the minds of men.” Christian and the footballers want to make a small contribution in this direction. And “in passing” offer proof in Germany that English fans are not all lager loutsâ€¦
On a smaller scale football will bridge borders as early as tomorrow — in the Thüringerhalle on the initiative of Erfurt’s “Spirit of Football” activists. “Christmas 2005 — Fans into Friends” is the name of the sporting and cultural festival that runs from 4 to 11pm. Teams from Russia, Africa, Poland and Vietnam will try their skills against players from Rot-Weiss Erfurt, the Engelsburg Student Club and also the Thuringian Press Group (as reported in TLZ). A samba band is preparing an evening programme from 8pm on which also includes eastern dancing, a “buffet of cultures” with international specialities, and stalls at which clubs and associations with an international focus will present their work. The soccer victors will take their applause at 9pm, with Hartwig Gauder presenting the cups, and from 11pm there follows an after show party in the Engelsburg.
Okay, so The Ball — or The Spirit of Football to give it its full title here on this site — has been unveiled. This is a replica of the mind-bogglingly expensive official ball, but anyway this is what it looks like, folks. Its name is Teamgeist, which translates as Team Spirit and makes me wonder if someone at adidas is coming round to our way of thinking… they’ve got the word “spirit” in it after all. Only another three words to get in there and it’ll have converged completely. Can’t wait to start kicking it!
Andrew Aris of the Spirit-of-Football
I’ve just arrived back from a week in Germany, where I met up with the good folks at the other Spirit-of-Football in Erfurt. It’s the World Cup draw later on today — which should include the announcement of The Ball for 2006 — and I’m really starting to feel the gathering momentum towards a feast of football.
What a great project Andrew is in the process of setting up.
UPDATE: Andrew has just been signed professionally by Rot Weiss Erfurt! Congratulations Andrew, can we have you on our side please?