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Adidas Azteca: the first synthetic FIFA World Cup matchball (1986)

The Adidas Azteca is the first synthetic FIFA World Cup matchball; it was released for the 1986 FIFA World Cup that was hosted by Mexico. The name of the matchball is a reference to the Aztec culture of Mexico. The Azteca was also the name of the stadium that held the 1986 FIFA World Cup final, and a range of important group stage matches and later elimination matches. The Azteca stadium is famous for hosting the quarter final match between Argentina and England: this game featured Maradona's "Hand of God Goal " and "Goal of the Century"; both scored using the Adidas Azteca matchball.

The Azteca ball, with aztec type patterns to represent the ball is made from a world cup held in mexico. The Azteca text, with Mexico written underneath, displaying the ball was designed for the 1986 Mexico world cup. States in text, in English and French, that it's the Official world cup ball 1986

The Adidas Azteca matchball has an Azteca (ancient murals / architecture) inspired mosaic design that was created by Rebecca Martinez. Alongside the mosaic, the ball has the Adidas trefoil logo printed upon it, and text that states the ball is the "Official World Cup Ball 1986 / Ballon Officiel Coupe de Monde 1986". The Azteca matchball that was used during the World Cup has black text, but the reproduction of the ball (shown above) has dark red text. The Azteca ball that has black text was manufactured in France and it states this upon the ball.

The Adidas Azteca is not a leather ball with a synthetic covering - like the Adidas Tango Durlast - but is a football entirely constructed from synthetic materials. The primary material that the Azteca is constructed from is polyurethane: polyurethane is a flexible polymer that has a vast range of applications. The reason why the Azteca was made entirely from synthetic materials: Adidas believed the ball would retain it's shape better in high altitudes, it would perform better in wet conditions, and would retain it's shape better on hard and rough surfaces.

The Adidas Azteca is not in continuous production; therefore, purchasing this matchball can be expensive when compared to other Adidas World Cup matchballs. The Azteca ball that typically has the highest value is the version with the black text, not the version shown above with dark red text. One of the reasons the Azteca is not in production is the fact it is a synthetic matchball, rather than a leather ball. The Azteca did receive criticism during the 1986 World Cup: due to it being too light and due to the reliability of the 'flight' of the ball.