As we saw in the first three World Cups, all the balls used in the tournaments had laces and had to be inflated by skilled men. The sphericity of these balls depended on the expertise of these people but even when they inflated the balls, they could never be perfectly round due to their construction. Another disadvantage of these balls with laces were the injuries to the players caused by headers. So it was only a question of time before the classic footballs with laces evolved.
A company called Tossolini –Valbonesi-Polo & Cia based in Bell Ville (in Cordoba province, Argentina) patented an innovative ball, which made a huge technical break-through and a turning point in the construction of footballs in the beginning of the nineteen thirties. The leather sphere became completely closed without laces and the balls became inflatable with a pump and needle via an almost hidden valve. The old appendix on the bladder was replaced by this new valve which kept the air inside of the balls better and no longer required skilled men to inflate them. The procedure was also much quicker. These balls were used in Argentina for league games and also many international matches. They were widely advertised as „Superval” as seen on Picture 1. After the World War II this Argentine company opened a branch also in Brazil and changed the old logo „Superval” (that they used in the South American market) to „Superball”. They were waiting for the 1950 World Cup, hoping that they would be chosen as the official ball supplier.
THE OFFICIAL MATCH ALL OF THE 1950 WORLD CUP: SUPERBALL DUPLO T
After some minor changes to the first models of „Superval”, the official match balls of the 1950 World Cup were finally manufactured in Brazil by the original inventors and were called „Superball Duplo T”. Even though the laceless construction had been invented at the beginning of the thirties as mentioned earlier, we had to wait more than a decade until it became accepted world wide and appeared in the World Cup, following the approval of FIFA. Just like the „Globe” and „Tiento” balls from the previous World Cups, the „Superball” also consisted of 12 identical panels but the edges of these panels were more curved. The Superball was a brown, hand sewn ball and FIFA allowed the manufacturer to print logos and text on the ball. As we will see in the case of the 1954, 1958 and 1966 World Cup balls, it was an exception, since the balls in Switzerland, Sweden and England had to be free from branding, regardless that the manufacturers put branded balls on the general market for sale at the same time. It was a strange regulation from FIFA because in 1962 (between the 1958 and 1966 World Cups) they allowed print and text on the ’Crack’ ball used in the Chile World Cup. The reason for this is not known.
As seen on the pictures below, an original Superball used in the 1950 World Cup between England and USA used to be displayed in the National Soccer Hall of Fame in Oneonta (New York State, USA). Unfortunately this museum was closed in 2010 but they plan to reopen the National Soccer Hall of Fame in another city in the USA soon. This Superball is the only original game used 1950 World Cup ball in existence that we know of. Some private collectors have similar balls, but none of these balls has the exact same prints as the Superball in this museum. If the new museum opens again, this website will let you know.
OTHER BALLS IN THE WORLD CUP
In addition to the Duplo T, another laceless ball with a syringe valve was supplied for the 1950 World Cup. It was also a 12 panel but unlike the Duplo T, this “secondary” ball wasn’t given a proper name and was therefore simply called by the name of the manufacturer: Superball. This model, most likely, was manufactured in Argentina and not in Brazil. It seems, however, that this version wasn’t used in the matches, although it appears in some photos during the warm ups.