Deutsches Patent- und Markenamt

Football and Technology


History of Football

Where, how and when did the main steps in the development of the football game and the ball as a sports tool take place?

2. Developments in the early modern era

In the "good old football days" it was not of prime importance if kicking, heading or tackling hurt. Matters changed in 1863, when the "Football Association" adopted compulsory rules at a London meeting that marked the birth of today's football game. Ball and equipment have continually been improved with the aim to reduce the risks of pain or injuries and to achieve better ball control [2] .

The early footballs offered quite a few opportunities for improvements. They mostly featured the above-mentioned two-casing design. A (pig or rubber) bladder, as airtight as possible, was provided as an inner casing to retain the blown-in air. The outer protective and wear-resistant casing consisted of a leather shell, formed by a plurality of panels sewn together.

At first, these casings were not bonded together. The leather took up water very quickly when it rained, making the ball heavy and difficult to play. The seams between the panels expanded and were not always sufficiently tear-resistant. The valve or tube, through which the bladder was inflated, affected the surface and had to be hid under a leather tongue which had mostly to be sewn onto the casing. Such footballs had rather poor flight and roll properties, since the ball did not have a perfect spherical shape and was not evenly balanced.

The activities of developers mainly concerned the choice and improvement of materials, stitching and bonding techniques, and the adaptation of all components. These activities are reflected in the chapter "The Football", to the extent that they are documented in patent literature.



The above historical overview uses the following references on the Internet: