At the 2010 World Cup, Adidas debuted the Jabulani, the tournament’s official game ball. It flopped. Players lamented its tendency to break unpredictably in the air—a consequence of its smooth stitching (see “The Physics of Flying Objects,” below). With this summer’s Cup to prepare for, Adidas didn’t want to repeat its mistake. The company tested the new Brazuca with more than 600 players over the course of three years. Although the ball has fewer panels than its predecessor—six versus eight—its seams are three times deeper, giving it less drag, which helps ensure it’ll fly where a player wants.
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