Adidas Azteca: World Cup 1986
Being the first fully synthetic ball in the history of football, Adidas Azteca holds the honor to be the official match ball of FIFA World Cup 1986. Since the World Cup was hosted by Mexico, Adidas decided to integrate into the ball some Mexican traditions.
Adidas Azteca was a brilliant manifestation of the Mexican culture as it represented the native Aztec architecture and murals with its design.
Azteca, the name of the football, is derived from the “Aztec” Mexican word. This term is used to refer to the Mexican people who lived dominated large parts of the country from the 14th – 16th centuries. Therefore, by giving the football this particular name, Adidas honored the indigenous population in its own style.
In addition to giving the ball the unique name, Adidas also decorated it with the Aztec architecture. For example, if you look closely at the ball, it has a certain pyramid structure at its bottom, with some incomplete square shapes on top of it. These structures, as showed by these links, were a part and parcel of the Aztec architecture.
Talking about the footballing side and Adidas improved the water resistance of this ball with the help of three layers and a polyurethane coating. These layers, which were in the interior, supported each other with their structures in order to resist the water. Moreover, thanks to the polyurethane coating, the durability of this ball increased manifolds.
While Adidas did innovate in the design of this ball, they took a leaf from the old book when it came to construction. For example, the 32-panel design – which had been used in the previous balls, was also used in the construction of Adidas Azteca.
Adidas used the synthetic materials in the construction of this ball due to the playing conditions in the host nation Mexico. As the matches were to be played in wet conditions, at higher altitudes, and on rough and hard surfaces, Adidas – with their innovation, tried to make sure that the ball would retain its shape in difficult conditions.
FIFA World Cup 1986
Being the 13th FIFA World Cup, the 1986 edition is still known for vastly different reasons. The first reason, which is resented by the English fans even now, was the goal which Diego Maradona scored against them in the Quarter Final.
With the match still on level terms, Maradona scored the “Hand of God” goal to lead Argentina to their 2nd World Cup title. However, to the credit of the Argentine Legend, he had scored 4-goals in the buildup to the Final to lead his team to glory.
The second phenomenon which increased the popularity of this world cup was the appearance of the Mexican wave. A rhythm where successive portions of spectators stand, shout, and raise their arms, the Mexican wave epitomized the reputation of the 1986 FIFA World Cup.
The Final of this tournament was played in Mexico City in front of a massive crowd of 114,600 fans. Argentine got a 2 goal lead within the opening hour mark with Brown and Valdano putting them ahead. West Germany stuck back in grand fashion as two goals in 6 minutes put the game on level terms.
However, this didn’t prove to be enough as Argentina scored their 3rd, and the game’s 5th goal, to win the game and the tournament 3-2.