Soccer Balls in the 1900s

By the 1900's bladders were made with stronger rubber and could withstand heavier pressure. Most balls produced by that time used rubber bladders. The balls were made from inner tubes covered with heavy brown leather. These balls would bounce easier and yet could be kicked. Most balls had a tanned leather cover with eighteen sections stitched together arranged in six panels of three strips each. Each section was stitched together by hand with five-ply hemp and a small lace-up slit was on one side. All of the stitching was done with the ball cover inside out. Once completed, the cover was reversed with the stitching on the inside. An un-inflated bladder was then inserted through the slit. A long stem neck (aperture) extending from the bladder was used to inflate the ball. Once inflated, the tube was inserted through the 15 cm slit and then the opening was laced up tight. You can imagine how often that these soccer balls had to re-inflated. Even during a game. These balls were good for kicking but was painful when heading due to the heavy stitching and the water absorption characteristics of the leather. Water absorption of the leather during rain made the ball very heavy and caused many head injuries. Other problems of the old leather balls were the various quality of cowhides used. Footballs varied in thickness and quality and the leather often degraded during the match. The soccer ball may have even played a part in the outcome of the first world cup in 1930. Argentina and Uruguay could not agree on which ball to use. So they decided to use an Argentinean ball the first

half and a ball supplied by Uruguay in the second half. As it turned out, Argentina was ahead at halftime 2-1using their soccer ball. However; Uruguay came back to win the match in the second half 4-2 using their ball! Click on the picture below see a larger picture of the ball used in the final match of the first world cup and cool USA and Uruguay first world cup team pictures. During World War II there were further production enhancements. The addition of a carcass made of strong cloths between the bladder and outer cover made controlling the shape easier, provided damping, and made the ball stronger. However; soccer balls played a crucial role in the outcome of matches due to the ball actually bursting during a game. The reason for the low quality balls just after World War II was blamed on the poor quality of the leather covers. Water absorption was improved by using synthetic paints and other non-porous materials to coat the leather. Also, a new type of valve was invented that eliminated the laced slit on soccer balls. In 1951 a white ball was first permitted to help spectators see the ball easier with the advent of floodlights. White soccer balls were un-officially used as early as 1892. The leather was simply white washed to produce the white ball. Orange balls were also first introduced in the 1950's to help see the ball in the snow. Different countries favored different types of soccer balls in the early days of international soccer. This caused much controversy. FIFA standardized the size, weight and type of balls with the introduction of an international board.