When clocks are rolled back and heavier coats are dug out of the back of the closet, you know winter is coming. Another sure sign: European soccer leagues switch over to brighter, high-visibility match balls.
Nike and the Premier League unveiled their new hi-vis match ball for the 2021-22 season on Monday, Nov. 1. Highly influenced by comic books and pop art, the ball has a yellow base and is covered with blue swirls and red circles. All the graphics feature polka dot patterns and thick black outlines.
Text and Nike logos on the ball are white with thick black drop shadows, adding to the comic book feel.
The markings on the hi-vis ball are roughly the same shapes as the ones found on the predominantly white Nike Flight model that the Premier League has been using since August. The white ball features black swirls with subtle teal inlines and crimson circles.
“The base of the graphic is a black organic pattern inspired by the Premier League being one of the most exciting and connected leagues in the world,” according to PremierLeague.com.
According to Nike, the Flight ball model has Aerowsculpt technology that “uses moulded grooves to disrupt airflow across the ball for less drag and more stable flight. The revolution in aerodynamics results in 30% truer flight compared to Nike’s Merlin ball,” the previous model Nike produced for use in the Premier League.
It also features All Conditions Control technology, which “adds a grippy texture, so you get a consistent touch in both wet and dry conditions,” and a 3D-printed ink overlay that “fine-tunes ball flight so you hit your target shot after shot, pass after pass.” The four fused panels “create a larger sweet spot on the ball for powerful strikes.”
The new Nike match ball will be used in the Premier League starting with the match on Friday, Nov. 5, between Southampton and Aston Villa. The league typically switches back to a white ball in the spring.
UPDATE (Nov. 5, 2021): Italy’s Serie A has also released its high-visibility ball for the 2021-22 season. It was unveiled on Twitter Friday morning, and is also a Nike Flight model, but with different markings than the Premier League ball:
The regular version of Serie A’s 2021-22 Nike Flight match ball is white with markings in two shades of blue and an orange Nike swoosh.
Feature photo courtesy Footy Headlines