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Choosing the perfect match footballs.


With such a wide choice when it comes to choosing the right match-balls, we have compiled this easy to understand guide to the FIFA grading system that applies to any football that is worthy of being termed a match football. Kit Stop stock a great range in store but to help you make an informed choice we suggest you read our guide here:

1996 FIFA introduced a system which regulated the standards of footballs in an effort to harmonise and improve the overall quality of match use footballs to meet demands for a quality assurance classification under the laws of the game.

Today only balls that have passed the rigorous FIFA testing criteria are allowed to carry the elite FIFA stamp that sets a good quality match ball apart from any others.

The three quality grades are:

1. FIFA QUALITY PRO – Previously known as FIFA Approved (Professional)

2. FIFA QUALITY – Previously known as FIFA Inspected (Intermediate)

3. FIFA BASIC – Known as International Match Ball Standard or IMS (Youth/Training)

If a football carries one of these official stamped quality grades upon it then you can be assured that this particular make of ball has been fully tested under strict conditions and is compliant with FIFA’s technical requirements.

The FIFA Quality Programme 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 quality marks: IMA or FIFA Quality or the even higher standard, FIFA Quality Pro.

Manufacturers of FIFA Match Balls

In total there are around 70 manufacturers worldwide of match footballs who have gained authority to officially carry the FIFA quality logo, so no matter which brand you use, you can at least rest assured that you possess a top quality football if it carries that FIFA stamp and it’s going to do “exactly what it says on the tin.

65% of certified balls are FIFA QUALITY PRO standard

22% of certified balls are FIFA QUALITY standard

13% of certified balls are FIFA BASIC standard

How does a ball receive a FIFA mark?

A ball must successfully pass the six strict tests to earn the FIFA Quality mark. To further gain the top FIFA Quality Pro mark, a ball must pass a seventh test under even more demanding conditions.

This test ensures all balls are the same size, giving all players an equal footing when playing in competitive matches. For FIFA QUALITY PRO size 5 balls, this circumference falls within the range of 68.5 - 69.5 cm.

Measurements are taken at 45,000 different points on the ball and the roundness is calculated mathematically. For FIFA QUALITY PRO size 5 balls, a maximum error of 1.5% is allowed.

A uniform rebound is important so players can control a pass or perform a header and expect a similar response from the ball each time. Rebound is tested in the lab by dropping it from two meters onto a steel plate and measuring the bounce height. At a given pressure and temperature, a ball should always bounce predictably.

Ideally a ball would never absorb water but in severe weather conditions, sometimes this is unavoidable. When this occurs, balls bearing the FIFA QUALITY mark are only allowed to absorb a minimal amount of water.

Size 5 FIFA QUALITY balls must weigh between 410 - 450 grams while FIFA QUALITY PRO balls must weigh between 420 - 445 grams.

FIFA QUALITY PRO balls can lose no more than 20% of their air over a 72 hour period. This helps ensure that, over the period of a game, the ball's pressure is roughly the same.

What is the difference between the three standards ?

The FIFA basic (IMS) must observe the above six values. This grade of football is best suited for youth team matches and as a high end trainer, where the characteristics of a match ball are desired but the added expense of buying a FIFA Quality grade is not necessarily a decisive factor.

Where a better quality match ball is favoured for adult league games, the higher grade FIFA Quality stamp should be the ball of choice, which has been awarded its mark whilst being tested under even more stringent conditions than the IMS. The superior FIFA Pro is then the ultimate selection for competition at the highest level, and again, satisfies in a yet more vigorous test environment and must attain the further seventh condition to qualify.

In this test, to qualify as a FIFA Pro standard match football, the ball undergoes 2000 simulated kicks by a machine. By the end of it, the ball must have roughly the same pressure, circumference and roundness.

WFSGI Pledge

As part of this responsibility, FIFA works very closely with the World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry (WFSGI). To join the FIFA Quality Programme for Footballs, every Manufacturer shall provide the WFSGI Pledge which ascertains that FIFA-certified footballs have been produced in compliance with globally recognised labour principles and without the involvement of child labour set forth in the WFSGI Code of Conduct.

The ever evolving standards for FIFA-certified balls are continually being raised. Even the slightest flaw in a ball will influence the way it flies through the air and rolls along the ground. The FIFA Quality Programme strives to continually improve the quality of FIFA-certified balls, which is why the criteria that are in place are subjected to regular reviews and, if necessary, amended accordingly.

As technology evolves and brands employ new technology and materials to manufacturing, maybe the perfect ball is within reach.

Within the Kit Stop range one particular ball we recommend if you are looking for a quality training football that has all the attributes needed to double up as a match-ball is the Precision Fusion Pro. So good it's a budget range trainer that carries the FIFA Basic (IMS) stamp.

Check out this video that outlines the FIFA quality programme in a nutshell here:

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