FIFA launched the FIFA Quality Concept for Footballs mini website. The FIFA Quality Concept for Footballs is a test programme for outdoor, futsal and beach soccer balls. Manufacturers can enter into a licensing agreement to use the prestigious FIFA APPROVED and FIFA INSPECTED quality marks on footballs that have passed a rigorous testing procedure.
The FIFA Quality Concept tests are used to assess footballs under laboratory conditions, subjecting them to even tougher conditions than they will probably ever endure during a normal game. Only balls that pass these tests receive one of the FIFA quality marks: FIFA INSPECTED or the even higher standard, FIFA APPROVED.
The Laws of the Game demand that all balls used in international matches organised by FIFA or the confederations bear one of the FIFA quality marks (FIFA APPROVED or FIFA INSPECTED) or the “IMS International Matchball Standard” mark. The referee can then be sure that the matchball meets all the necessary requirements, and he only needs to check the ball’s air pressure.
Everyone – from the world’s most famous professionals to school children having a kick-around at playtime – can ensure that they have a top-quality football by looking for the FIFA marks the next time they buy a ball.
A ball must successfully pass the six tests described in detail on this website to earn the FIFA INSPECTED quality mark. The tests check the ball’s circumference, size, roundness, rebound, water absorption and loss of pressure.
To gain the top FIFA APPROVED quality mark, a ball must pass these six tests under even more demanding conditions, as well as a seventh test (shape and size retention) to ensure that the ball also retains its shape and size for the duration of a match.
Over 40 million footballs are produced each year. They vary in price from a few dollars to perhaps $150 or more. It is difficult to estimate the actual number of football manufacturers worldwide but, suffice to say, around 90 manufacturers are registered FIFA licensees.
These include the major worldwide brands that have some three-quarters of the world market between them, other somewhat smaller companies that still have a world market, those that are well-known and mainly sell in their own countries, right down to small manufacturers producing only a few hundred footballs each year. Of course, many of the household-name companies produce sportswear and footwear as well, and so footballs are simply part of their product range.