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Question Number: 34642

Law 2 - The Ball 7/19/2022

RE: Grass Roots Under 19

R K Hodgkiss of Nashua, NH USA asks...

I was in a sporting goods store and happened to look at the soccer balls that were for sale there.
I was surprised to see balls with texture designs in the surface of the ball that cause it not to be smooth.
I haven't seen a ruling on the use of balls like this.
Is there any information on their usage?


Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi there RK,
could it have been an indoor soccer ball? They are often textured with a heavy bladder to restrict bouncing.

If it was dimpled like a golf ball I might wonder at that,given the new glue technique putting on a bit of aerodynamic texturing? The ball weight & flight relates to the size and shape in relationship to the players using them. Balls are generally sizes 3, mini 4, youth and 5, made to be used by older players.

If the ball is fit for regulation play the approved seal of FIFA logo will be stamped on it. Referees are to inspect the balls for defects, loose skin, over or under air pressured for weight, general shape and whether the ball is in fact tested and approved via the logo.

Cotton, petrol chemical plastics, and leather can all be used but the higher end balls usually have four layers of polyester and cotton lining for superior shape retention and durability. Mid-level balls generally are comprised of two or three layers of cotton and two layers of polyester. Lower-priced balls generally are constructed of two layers of polyester. The deal though their surface area should not have any dangerous additions or imperfections within the stitched panels or the new glued ones . Send me a picture to

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Thanks for the question.
Soccer balls can be made from any suitable material and some footballs are made from a material that suits their application such as indoor games like Futsal or indeed just general indoor soccer.

As to textured design many of the modern balls put an emphasis on design and texturing. Some manufacturers are claiming that the balls with textured design fly some 30% truer making the flight of the ball more predictable plus the so call knuckle ball effect more difficult to execute. That may be the case yet for the vast majority of us that is not very important. I suspect that as always with designs and texturing that these are used for marketing purpose to sell more balls,

In respect of the Pro game only FIFA approved balls can be used and to achieve that certification the ball must meet seven tests under circumference, sphericity, bounce / rebound, water absorption, weight, loss of pressure and shape/size retention. Once the ball passes the criteria set for all seven tests the balls can then be marked with an appropriate FIFA approval logo.
More details can be found here

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi RK,
The laws themselves don't say anything about the surface texture of the ball, just its shape (spherical), size and weight. They also specify that it must be "made of suitable material."

Then there is another provision that:

"All balls used in matches played in an official competition organised under the auspices of FIFA or confederations must meet the requirements and bear one of the marks of the FIFA Quality Programme for Footballs."

For "grass roots" football though, those extra requirements wouldn't apply, of course.

So as far as I can tell, it's OK for a ball to have some surface texture, if it meets the basic requirements listed above. Going back through the history of the laws, there has never been a requirement for the ball's surface to be flawlessly smooth.

In the past for instance, balls were always made of separate panels, stitched or glued together. So again, the surface wouldn't be completely smooth.

It actually wouldn't be good if a ball had a completely smooth surface, as it would be unstable in flight, especially when moving at speed through the air. This is the precisely the reason why golf balls have dimples, by the way - they wouldn't fly as far (or as straight) if they didn't.

I don't know if you remember the infamous Jabulani ball used in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. It was widely criticised, especially by goalkeepers, for having unpredictable flight characteristics. After scientists analysed the ball, they concluded that this was because its internal seams made it too smooth on the outside, leading to the instability.

So a certain amount of texture on the ball's surface could actually be desirable.

Just as a further indicator that, even in high level games, surface texturing is allowed, here's an illustration of the ball being used in the UEFA Women's Euro 2022 competition currently being played in England.

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