How FIFA Balls Are Tested and Approved
The logos above are the quality standard marks for all FIFA approved match balls and guarantee a high standard.
Since the introduction of rigorous testing, with defined specifications and quality control, the benefits to the buyer are clear to see. Among these are the knowledge that the ball you are paying for, has a consistent level of quality, is the best you will get for the money, and most of all top playing performance.
FIFA decreed in 1996 that only outdoor soccer balls that have undergone the official testing procedure, and meet the high standards required to bear the stamps, ‘FIFA Approved’, ‘FIFA Inspected’ and ‘International Matchball Standard’, are allowed to be used in matches governed by FIFA and the world’s six continental Confederations.
Since the start of January 2000 all indoor or Futsal soccer balls, manufactured for games within FIFA and the six Confederations, now also have to be tested and approved. Since 2006 this also applies to beach soccer balls.
FIFA has made it a priority to have standardized soccer balls of a high quality throughout the worlds top matches. Through this initiative it has driven the overall standards in production to new improved heights, meaning we all get a better game as a result.
The rigorous testing procedures for balls that wish to gain one of these three standards, are set in such a way as to replicate the conditions of match play.
For the designation FIFA Inspected 7 balls must be submitted by the manufacturers to be tested . For the higher designation of FIFA Approved 10 balls must be provided. These two standard marks are carried out at the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology in St Gallen (Eidgenössische Materialprüfungs- und Forschungsanstalt).
The third designation IMS (International Matchball Standard) is a slightly less rigorous procedure and the balls to be tested for this mark, can be sent to one of the European testing centres chosen by FIFA to carry out them out. Two of which are Prüf- und Forschungsinstitut Pirmasens e.V. (PFI) and CSI S.p.A. For the first two standard marks a licence fee is paid which allows the use of the FIFA mark, whereas for the IMS the same testing is carried out as the FIFA Inspected mark but no licence is issued so there can be no association with FIFA.
There are six tests for the FIFA Inspected and the IMS marks. The same six tests are carried out for the FIFA Approved mark with the addition of a shape and size retention or shooting test. Although the same tests are carried out, the FIFA Approved tests have tighter parameters, e.g the FIFA Inspected and IMS test for pressure loss allows 25% loss of air, while the FIFA Approved allows only 20% loss of air.
The soccer (footballs) balls testing procedures are as follows:
The weight of a football has been set for many years and needs to have consistent feel for a clean strike. Three balls are chosen for the tests, inflated to 0.8 bar and are then weighed on an electronic balance in a wind free atmosphere. The scales are highly calibrated to insure accurate readings. Individual measurements are taken and recorded as well as the mean of the test subjects.
Playing the game we all know that a ball needs to be the same size for everyone, just think what it would be like if you practised with a smaller ball than the match ball. You would have no feel as to how the ball would react whatsoever. So on Jan 1 2011 the CSM or circumference and sphericity machine was introduced. The CSM takes measurements at 45,000 points on the ball giving an extremely accurate readout.
Nobody wants to see a game played with a defective ball. If the ball is not as round as possible trying to dribble the ball along the ground would be a lot harder it would bounce all over the place. As would passing, imagine the perfect cross along the ground to set up a goal, the ball wobbles the striker miss-kicks no goal. So once again using the CSM measurements are taken at 45,000 points, a lot of maths is then done and hey presto a beautiful graph is produced giving accurate data for the shape of the ball. As so many points are measured it is almost impossible for a defect to slip though.
A ball has to bounce the same every time or as close to perfect as possible. This is essential when trying to control a ball with the feet, head or chest, for example from a long pass. You really need the ball to react the same each time, as this type of ball control is what makes the difference between top level players and the also rans, these skills win games. The test involves the balls being dropped from a height of two metres onto a steel plate. This is done in a controlled atmosphere and at an inflated ball pressure of 0.8 bar. A high speed camera is used to measure the bounce rate over ten times they must have a consistent rebound.
It is bad enough having to play in the rain, surface water changes the way a ball moves and bounces and falling rain effects the flight. So nobody wants extra weight being added by a ball soaking up too much water. A water logged ball will not strike true, neither will it travel along the ground very well. Oh and heading the ball becomes a painful chore! The testing for this is carried out in a tank of water, with the ball being turned and squeezed down by a piston 250 times. The weight is measured before and after and a simple calculation made as to how much it has increased.
Air pressure retention
A soccer ball must retain its air to keep the flow of the game going nobody in the sport wants to have to stop the game to pump up the ball. How much air in the ball has a marked impact on how the ball plays. Too much and the ball becomes harder to strike, with possible injuries resulting, too little and the ball becomes wayward and is difficult to control. This test is carried out in a temperature controlled atmosphere. The balls are inflated to one bar and left for 72 hours. The air pressure is then read again and noted how much air is lost.
Shape and Size Retention
This test is for FIFA Approved balls only, it simulates matchplay and is designed to put the ball through a rigorous workout. For a ball to be good enough for top flight games it must be able to retain its shape, air and construction. The ball is shot using a mechanical leg at a steel plate, at the speed of 50kph for a total of 2000 times. The ball is checked for loss of pressure, circumference and sphericity. Only a minimal amount of change is acceptable. The valve and all seams must be intact and undamaged.
The balance test is for indoor or Futsal balls only. A perfectly balanced ball is essential when playing on a hardcourt . If the ball is not balanced the bounce is very unpredictable and therefore much harder to control. Due to the size of the playing surface and the nature of the game, supreme ball control is required. By drawing a line around the circumference of the ball and using high speed cameras, the path of balls rolled down an incline can be measured. This is done from 24 different angles and the deviation of travel can be accurately measured.
Capital Balls offers FIFA Inspected & FIFA Approved soccer and footballs! Contact us for more information about orders and manufacturing.