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Who says history always means looking back? Who says an archive is full of old stuff that’s dead and gathering dust? I see it quite differently and do you want to know why? Well, Brazuca, the official match ball of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil is a great example to explain.

The adidas archive has a long tradition in our company. Our company founder Adi Dassler understood long ago how to collect important new products and product innovations and learn from them for new product innovations. It was he who started the first archive – a kind of technical collection – in order to show his employees how they could learn from existing products and thus develop new ones.

One of Adi Dassler’s key strategies was also to launch new product innovations in connection with each World Cup – and since 1970 this has included the official World Cup ball, the first being the Telstar for the finals in Mexico.

Today I’m in charge of the History Management department where we see ourselves as Adi Dassler’s successors. My team and I also collect yesterday’s and today’s new products and major innovations for posterity. Brazuca, the official match ball of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil definitely is one of those products we have a close eye on.

The art of anticipating what a brand new product will mean for future generations

adidas Brazuca - official match ball of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil

adidas Brazuca – official match ball of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil

The question is: what makes the Brazuca so “collectable”? The fact that it’s the most tested ball in the history of the adidas brand? The fact that it’s the first ball in World Cup history to have been given its name by Brazilian/local football fans? All of these certainly qualify as initial criteria to make the ball “archivable”. But what ultimately makes an individual ball unique and therefore a special object that absolutely must be put in our adidas archive?

It may be a unique situation during a game – in the final stages or in the final match itself – that leads to a decisive goal. Or a magnificent pass by Messi, Benzema or Müller that decides a game. I’ll be observing the Brazuca on its way to the final through my very special “history glasses”. And then anything is possible…even for the Brazuca.

Why go to all this trouble? What stories can a ball tell us if we beam ourselves into the future, say 40 years from now?

For me, football stands for the joy of life, for tempo, team spirit and emotions. The sport connects cultures and peoples, individuals and generations. All of this together creates scope for exciting stories and unique situations that remain in our collective memory. In order that this memory still remains the same happy event in our memories decades from now, we sometimes also need physical souvenirs – such as this Brazuca, for example, that will take its place in our archive as a historical object. Here are just two of many examples:

Final Wembley and Jo’bulani – mementoes of history in our archive

Arjen Robben scoring the winning goal in the 2013 Champions League Final

Arjen Robben scoring the winning goal in the 2013 Champions League Final

The first is the 2013 UEFA Champions League final at Wembley: Arjen Robben scored the deciding goal to make it 2-1, thus making the star ball an important object for our archive, because it documents the Champions League victory for Bayern Munich on the way to their historic triple.

It was quite similar with the ball used in the final of the 2010 World Cup that brought the Spanish national team the title of World Champions. Their goalkeeper Iker Casillas autographed the ball for us after the final and handed it over for our archive. Both objects are in themselves unique and there are no two of either of them anywhere. For us, however, these objects are also mementoes of our history that will help us to remember these magnificent achievements in 40 or 50 years’ time.

The Brazuca fits our collection strategy perfectly and I am already looking forward to the day when it arrives at our archive! After all, what object can tell better stories after the World Cup than the Brazuca?