RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - The latest army of Brazil fans born in the country have been offered a free World Cup ball by German sporting goods maker Adidas as part of the official launch of the brazuca.
The company's chief executive Herbert Hainer said earlier this week that he expected Adidas to sell a record number of soccer balls next year when the tournament kicks off.
However, any child born in Brazil on Tuesday, when the ball was launched, can be the proud owner of a brazuca, named in 2012 after a public vote in Brazil involving one million fans.
The name comes from an informal local term meaning "Brazilian" and refers to the Brazilian way of life. It is also used to compliment a skilful move on the pitch.
The colors and ribbon design of the ball panels symbolize the traditional multi-colored wish bracelets worn in the country (fita do Senhor do Bonfim da Bahia).
The ball was tested for 2-1/2 years by more than 600 players and 30 teams in 10 countries across three continents, including Argentina's Ballon d'Or, or world player of the year, winner Lionel Messi and European champions Bayern Munich.
It was also used in several internationals, with a different design, including a Sweden-Argentina friendly in February.
Adidas has made every World Cup ball since 1970 and recently extended its partnership with soccer's world governing body FIFA until 2030, including the supply of the official match ball.
The company said in a news release that "a new structural innovation with a unique symmetry of six identical panels alongside a different surface structure will provide improved grip, touch, stability and aerodynamics on the pitch".
Brazil fullback Dani Alves said: "...we're going to have a lot of fun with it. Most importantly, it plays well on the ground and in the air. It's increased my levels of excitement even further and I honestly cannot wait for the opening game."
The tournament kicks off on June 12 next year in Sao Paulo and runs through to the July 13 final in Rio de Janeiro.
World and European champions Spain are hoping the brazuca, which follows in the footsteps of the Jabulani and its predecessors going back to the renowned 1970 Telstar version, can bring them more success at next year's finals.
Spain captain and goalkeeper Iker Casillas said: "The brazuca has a stunning design that feels inspired by Brazil. Now the ball has been launched the tournament feels a lot closer. Hopefully with brazuca we can get the same result as in 2010."
(Writing by Ken Ferris in London; Editing by Brian Homewood)
- Sports & Recreation