Bend it like Beckham: Ed Fontes teaches us about the new World Cup ball #scienceofsport

ed fontes

Ed Fontes has posted a super cool blog post on COMSOL blog about the physics and engineering of the new 2014 FIFA World Cup ball. Definitely check out the article for in-depth analysis and really nice illustrations and figures!

The Beckham and Maradona curl obtained with the inside of the soccer cleat (football boot), and the curl by Eder, Nelinho, and Roberto Carlos with the outside of the cleat, is due to the Magnus effect. The effect is named after the scientist who first observed it in a laboratory in the 1850s. The Magnus effect explains the side-force on a sphere that is both rotating and moving forward. Here, we use it to analyze the World Cup™ match ball.

Science of FIFA World Cup soccer balls


Scientific Reports this month includes a timely article on the aerodynamics of different types of soccer balls, “Effect of panel shape of soccer ball on its flight characteristics.” The study included a kick robot that uniformly kicked each of the balls. Thought all soccer balls were the same? think again, “Soccer balls are typically constructed from 32 pentagonal and hexagonal panels. Recently, however, newer balls named Cafusa, Teamgeist 2, and Jabulani were respectively produced from 32, 14, and 8 panels with shapes and designs dramatically different from those of conventional balls. The newest type of ball, named Brazuca, was produced from six panels and will be used in the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.”

News article for those without access to Scientific Reports.