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Nuno Bacharel
Nuno Bacharel

31 national teams, 64 matches, playing in  12 cities across Brazil, after the controversy and the red cards to the Brazilian politicians,  all  eyes are now on the World Cup 2014. Millions of passionate supporters worldwide are now glued to their TVs, willing their national teams to victory.

What you didn´t know is the role that Chemistry has in  ensuring the best performance of your team!

Let´s get the ball rolling?

  Brazuca: the official ball

Brazuca is the official Adidas match ball of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The new ball has a new structural innovation provided by six symmetrical panels alongside a different surface texture, enhancing grip, touch, stability and aerodynamics on the pitch.

Brazuca is a product of two-and-a-half-years in the  making.  The testing involved more than 600 of the world’s top players and 30 teams in 10 countries across three continents…

But this new high performance ball would not be possible without chemistry!  To give this innovative character and aerodynamics to the ball different chemical materials were used, mainly polymers – very long molecules built up from many smaller component molecules. Credit cards, plastic bottles and glasses are just a few of the polymer-based products that we use every day.

To achieve the best results on the covering (the outermost layer), the lining, and the bladder of the ball, different polymers were used – take a look at the infographic below.

(to read more about polymers check out  our news section )

The-Chemistry-of-the-World-Cup-Ball-Brazuca-1024x724 (1)

Soccer equipment

This year sport brands had a difficult task: produce the most innovative and high performance equipment to be used in one of the world’s  hottest and most humid countries, Brazil.

To answer the needs of the football players, the World Cup equipment suppliers had Chemistry as their main ally!

All the equipment was made with advanced synthetic microfibres  that ensure maximum breathability. These fabrics force out the sweat and give the player a cool feeling.

Nike is one of the forefront brands in terms of innovation and new technologies, incorporating biomechanical research into their sports equipment, making it  more light and protective.

Nike combined cotton and recycled polyester to create a “second-skin” material and incorporated laser cut holes along the sides of the shirt to make it more breathy.

Sustainable Solutions

As was the case with  the Olympics 2012 in London, FIFA was striving for more sustainability in this edition of World Cup.

After all the criticism about  how the event would have a negative impact on the environment and waste  energy, FIFA and Brazil joined  forces – with a little help from Chemistry – and they came up with  some solutions to make the event more green and sustainable.

  •  Green Venues

There are a number of measures that have been introduced in Brazil to make the World Cup stadiums more sustainable, including for example solar panels on the roof, efficient lighting using LEEDS, reduce fresh water use with modern sanitation facilities, recycling waste

In addition, the constructers took into  account the use of energy efficient materials during the construction and renovation of stadiums.

For example the Maracana stadium got a PTFE membrane roof with a 40,000-square-meter surface and in the Estádio Nacional (Brasilia), the spectators will be sun- and rain-protected by a transparent plate of Makrolon polycarbonate.

  • Artifical turf

Another  sustainable example is the artificial turf, where synthetics fibres  (generally made of polyethylene), combined with the natural grass, create a robust and durable field.  This high-tech field  can be played on at least three times as often as common sports fields.

In addition to these new additives, in particular antioxidants and high-performance stabilisers have been developed to preserve the mechanical strength as well as the colour and shape stability of the field.

 Time to relax and watch the best World teams playing! Which team are you supporting at the 2014 World Cup?