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World Cup ball plays better at higher altitudes: study
26 June 2014
The Brazuca ball being used in the 2014 FIFA World Cup will play better at Brazil’s higher altitude stadiums, according to studies by RMIT University researchers in Melbourne, Australia.
Professor Aleksandar Subic and Associate Professor Firoz Alam tested the Brazuca ball in the lead up to the World Cup in the RMIT Aerodynamics Research Wind Tunnel.
The tests found that high altitude will impact on the ball's aerodynamic drag and speed – players risk overshooting the ball during a long pass, free kick or long shot to the goal post unless they understand the altitude effect and adapt their game accordingly.
The research compared the aerodynamics of the balls specially designed for the last four FIFA World Cups – Brazuca (2014), Jabulani (2010), Teamgeist (2006) and Fevernova (2002).
“The Brazuca ball will travel much faster than Jabulani and Teamgeist balls at low speeds and it will have more predictable flight in calm wind conditions than its two predecessors,” Associate Professor Alam said.
“We found that the Brazuca ball had more aerodynamic resistance at wind speeds between 50 and 70 km/h, compared with the Jabulani ball.
“At 50 to 70 km/h wind speeds, the Jabulani had the lowest aerodynamic resistance of the four.
“At speeds below 50 km/h, the aerodynamic behaviour of Brazuca ball is similar to that of the Fevernova ball.”
Professor Subic said the footballs were designed for each World Cup specifically to take advantage of latest technological innovations and the Brazuka was no exception.
“The Brazuka ball has micro-rectangular pimples in a wavy pattern on its surface along with wide and deep seam between the panels, and the seam is almost 40 per cent larger than the length of a Jabulani ball,” he said.
“These wide seams generate turbulent airflow creating less aerodynamic drag – or resistance – at low speeds, compared with the Jabulani and Teamgeist balls.”