At, we get asked a lot of questions about gear. Though we usually field questions along the lines of “what size cleats should I buy?” (answer: ½ size smaller than your sneakers), and “will these cleats make me as good as Ronaldo?” (answer: no), we often get asked about the history of the game and how equipment, especially soccer balls, has evolved over time. Many people wonder, why is a soccer ball black and white? Here’s the story of how we arrived at the traditional design.

The First Soccer Balls

The game of soccer can be traced back to around 200 BC, and back then, players usually kicked around an inflated animal bladder or stomach, usually covered in leather. Gross, for sure, but it got the job done. Around 1844, rubber kingpin Charles Goodyear started making balls from vulcanized rubber with internal, plastic bladders replacing animal organs. Soccer ball colors at this time spanned the spectrum from light brown to dark brown; not exactly mind-blowing. Eventually, they started being dyed white.

The Telstar & the 1970 World Cup

As soccer became more popular around the world, many fans started tuning in on TV. Unfortunately, with the TVs of the era (many of which were black and white), it could be hard to follow the white ball. For the 1970 World Cup, adidas® introduced the Telstar design. The Telstar is the classic black and white panel design that we’re all familiar with today. It improved visibility on television screens, and players felt it helped them more accurately strike the ball.

The Ball of Today

That was then, this is now. Nowadays, with high definition TV, visibility for viewers is less of an issue. That frees up manufacturers to experiment with different colors and designs. Check out the latest Nike® soccer balls and adidas® soccer balls at