The UEFA Champions League is without a doubt the most attractive, competitive club tournament in the world. The Champions League has become the benchmark in clubs competition, not only because of its financial appeal but also because the best clubs and best players are performing.
Sponsors are leveraging their brand and products and one of the most iconic marketing piece of the tournament is the match ball: The adidas Finale.
Adidas introduced the Champions League ball for the 2000-2001 season. Fantastic sponsorship activation from the 3-stripes to have ALL clubs involved in the competition to play with the Finale. As a matter of facts, it goes beyond Champions League games. Players are training with it and therefore leading to an increase of exposure for the ball and its branding. Regardless of the team sponsor, the Finale is the masterpiece and gets a strong focus. One image that comes to my mind is Lionel Messi after his amazing performance vs Arsenal (he scored 4 goals…..remember?) leaving the pitch with the match ball. Two great football icons together…….what else? George would say.
Anyway, since 2001 the adidas Finale is the official match ball of the UEFA Champions League. Its specific design is anchored in football fans and marketers minds. However, not only adidas is linking its brand (more and more) to the competition, but the starball design is a significant callout to UEFA and the Champions League itself. While adidas is linking ts brand and image to the tournament, UEFA integrates strongly and efficiently its marks to the competition.
Recently, adidas unveiled the adidas Finale Madrid football, the brand new Champions League match ball to be used for the 2010 final in Madrid on the 22nd May. The Finale Madrid ball is the 10th version of the adidas Finale ball history.
As mentioned previously, the design of the Madrid ball includes the strong design of the UEFA Champions League starball logo. In addition, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Finale, adidas included panel details to showcase the Finale’s history. In addition, the Champions League winner will be playing with that ball for their home matches the following season.
Let me give you an overview of the adidas Finale match balls history from its introduction in 2001 until now.
Season 2000-2001; FC Bayern – Valencia 1-1 (5 -4 pen)
The adidas Finale featured a unique design, inspired by the UEFA Champions League starball logo, one of the most recognizable symbols in the football world. The new design is completely different from the traditional adidas Tango design. This underlines adidas’ commitment to break new ground in the new millennium developing new and distinct products for the most important events in football. The exclusive Champions League design inextricably links adidas and the new matchball to the very best of football.
On the technical side, the adidas Finale was developed based on the adidas equipment Terrestra Silverstream, the Official Matchball of the UEFA European Football Championship 2000. Softer, faster and more accurate than any other adidas match ball before, the adidas Finale also features a layer of highly compressed, gas-filled micro-ballons of equal size (syntectic foam), proven during EURO 2000™ and probably contributing to the highest average goal rate in a major tournament ever.
Season 2001-2002; Real Madrid – Bayer Leverkusen (2-1)
Very classy, and adidas was building the second year on the momentum created in football fans minds that the UEFA Champions League match ball is a strong icon.
Season 2002-2003; AC Milan – Juventus 0-0 (3-2 pen)
Certainly one of the most boring game in the Champions League final history in Manchester. I actually saw some spectators yarning by this appalling football spectacle. Anyway, the Finale still featured the black stars and established itself as a brand of its own.
Season 2003-2004; FC Porto – AS Monaco (3-0)
Dider Deschamps vs José Mourinho. The latter was not yet the special one but his team was already very powerful at the Schalke Arena of Gelsenkirchen. The technology and the design of the Finale remained unchanged but adidas added shades of blue on the matchball, linking to the local colours of the Gelsenkirchen stadium.
Not only it was the official match ball of the UEFA Champions League, but one of the very few authentic balls that was specifically made for the final 2004 game. The ball can easily be identified by the printed AufSchalke logo on the ball. Adidas marks only those balls that are intended to be used in the final game.
Season 2004-2005; AC Milan vs FC Liverpool 3-3 (2-3 pen)
What a game! Unforgettable. In Istanbul, Liverpool being 3-0 down and winning on penalty kicks. The adidas Finale is powering a new technology. Thermal bonded panels replacing the hand stichings. The ball is more resistant to water and has a seamless surface with an increased accuracy.
The major improvement of the new Finale is the Power Balance Technology with the following features:
- Novel panel design – superior PU surface plus highly resilient foam for better ball control and explosive response.
- Thermal bonded panels: a new technology which replaces traditional hand stitching, thus creating a smoother, seamless surface for increased accuracy, water resistance and durability.
- Innovative carcass technology: a new lamination technique for optimal balance and most consistent quality properties.
- High-grade natural latex bladder for optimal rebound characteristics.Overall, the fourth generation of the Finale offers better control and rebound characteristics than ever before as well as increased water resistance, accuracy and durability.
Season 2005-2006; FC Barcelona vs Arsenal (2-1)
In Paris, Arsenal reached its first Champions League final. Unfortunatly for the gunners, Barcelona was too strong….already. The Finale Paris featured the World Cup 2006 design: The Teamgeist.
The Teamgeist ball differs from previous balls in having just 14 curved panels rather than the 32 that have been standard since 1970. The panels are bonded together, rather than stitched. It is claimed to be rounder and to perform more uniformly regardless of where it is hit, and being almost waterproof, it does not change performance as much when wet.
Season 2006-2007; FC Liverpool vs AC Milan (2-1)
Everybody was expecting a revenge from the 2005 final lost by the Rossoneri. Well, another proof to have Super Pipo playing in your team rather than against you.
The adidas Finale Athens still features the successful adidas Teamgeist technology. It reduces the number of three-panel touch points by 60% and the total length of panel lines by 15%. This creates a perfectly round ball allowing great accuracy and control for players. The combination of the revolutionary panel shape, a new carcass construction and the thermal bonding technology provide this official match ball for the Final with the best performance qualities ever.
The design of the adidas Finale Athens is based on the widely recognizable UEFA Champions League star ball logo and is executed in blue and white, representing the colors of Greece. Celebrating the city where the first modern Olympics of 1896 took place, adidas named the ball for the UEFA Champions League Final the Finale Athens.
Season 2007-2008; Manchester Utd vs Chelsea FC 1-1 (6-5 pen)
English football is dominating Europe with 2 of the Premier League teams in the Champions League final in Moscow.
The new design of the Finale Moscow is innovative. Indeed, the stars feature significant shapes of the host venue. The ball is an eye-catching mix of red and gold and the designers are said to have taken their inspiration from Red Square, the Kremlin and the gold domes of Moscow’s numerous cathedrals.
Season 2008-2009; FC Barcelona vs Manchester Utd (2-0)
Great game with 2 great teams. But Messi and Eto’o were just too good.
The adidas Finale Rome Ball is featuring Metallic White and Cardinal colour palette. The cover is thermally-bonded seamless surface for predictable trajectory, better touch and low water uptake. PSC texture for more power, swerve and control. Power Balanced Technology. The bladder is latex.
The design of the adidas “Finale Rome” is based on the widely recognizable UEFA Champions League star ball. The colours of the new match ball are inspired by the traditional Roman colour burgundy with gold detailing around the stars. Mosaic figures representing key sporting and Roman values such as speed, teamwork, justice and power are featured in each star honouring the most important European club game.
Like the EUROPASS, the match ball for the UEFA EURO 2008, the adidas Finale Rome features the innovative surface structure, PSC-Texture. This surface structure allows players to control and direct the ball perfectly in all weather conditions. The PSC- Texture consists of a sophisticated and extremely fine structure on the ball’s outer skin that guarantees optimum grip between ball and boot. Due to the usage of this material, the ball texture feels like goose bumps. In addition, like the EUROPASS, the adidas Finale Rome is constructed out of 14 panels using revolutionary Thermal Bonding Technology.
adidas is smartly and powerfully leveraging its exlusive UEFA match ball rights, and managed to established the Finale match Ball as one of the most powerful icon of the biggest club football competition. I can’t wait to see the celebration in Madrid on May 22 around the 10th anniversary of the Finale! See you there hopefully!