Telstar 2018 is the name of the ball designed by Adidas specifically for the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018, a redesign of the first ball manufactured by Adidas for the 1970 FIFA World Cup, when it was held in Mexico.

Telstar 2018, soccer ball for the FIFA World Cup 2018

The Telstar ball (the name comes from “star television”), was the first with the black pentagons on a white background, made by sewing together 32 leather panels (12 pentagons and 20 hexagons), to get a more precise spherical shape. The name Telstar comes from the first two telecommunications satellites launched into orbit (early Sixties), which inspired the design of the shape, and the idea of the black pentagons was due to the TV screen – the black and white design made the ball more visible on the TV screen, as in 1970, in most of the world, the TV was still black and white.

1970 Telstar soccer ball

Telstar 18 consists of 6 panels of Impranil®, a 65% recyclable, waterborne polyurethane (without co-solvents), glued with Dispercoll®, a waterborne environment friendly adhesive; the innermost layer of the ball skin is an adhesion coating that connects the textile substrate to the layers above. On top of this is a polyurethane foam layer, roughly one millimeter thick. Two compact layers of polyurethane provide the ball with very high elasticity, resistance to abrasion, and return to its original shape immediately after the kick (tests ensure that the ball would retain its shape even if fired at a steel wall 2,000 times at 50 km per hour). The technology  and the materials used were studied to make the flight paths of the ball more predictable, even if the subtle deformity created when it is kicked is of course an unpredictable factor.
Telstar 18 contains also a microchip, which connects to your smartphone and allows you to get information about the World Cup and matches.

Adidas Telstar Mechta, the ball for the knockout stage at FIFA World Cup 2018 

Graphically speaking, today’s design is less precise than the first Telstar, being composed of irregular elements printed with an asymmetrical pattern. And this can cause misinterpretations of the flight, which however do not show evidence from the scientific side, as stated by the EMPA laboratory, which carries out official tests on FIFA balls.

One last thing: when Italy won the World Cup, in 2006 it played with the ball Adidas Teamgeist Berlin, and in 1982 with the ball Adidas Tango Espana.