The adidas Starball has been synonymous with the UEFA Champions League since its introduction, with FC Bayern München's 2001 victory against Valencia CF in Milan the first final to be contested using one of the iconic balls.
Those early balls were hand-stitched, but technology has evolved season on season since then, with the 2004 Finale ball, launched ahead of the 2004 UEFA Champions League final in Gelsenkirchen, representing a major breakthrough; the 32-panel ball adopted the Roteiro construction and, in a break with tradition, used thermal bonding technology, rather than being hand-stitched.
Balls launched for UEFA Champions League finals were originally used in standard competition the following season – with the Starball being a different colour for most campaigns. However, a new tradition began in 2006 with the launch of the Finale Paris – the first ball that was designed specifically for the final, to be used exclusively by the eventual winners for the following season.
Thermal bonded, like all subsequent final balls, the Finale Paris represented a break with design tradition, pioneering a new 14-panel design making the ball rounder, smoother and thus easier to control than any previous ball.
The Finale 7, used for the Athens final of 2007, further honed these developments, with 2008's Finale 8 ball used in Moscow introducing the new PSC-Texture, with the dimpled surface further enhancing control. Innovation continued with the Finale Rome for the 2009 decider. Like previous final balls, it incorporated elements of the related to the final's branding and was marked with the location of the crucial game.
The design of the Finale Madrid in 2010 celebrated a decade of finals, including that season's, with the exclusive motif from each of these showpiece matches being drawn in gold inside one of the characteristic star panels of the ball, while the red and white design of the Finale London reflects the cross of St George – the patron saint of England. The ball also includes an orange top star and this season's final logo, two lions holding the UEFA Champions League trophy.
As official supplier of the UEFA Champions League, adidas will continue to bring the best technological and design features to future balls, creating a new Starball for every season of the competition as well as a special ball for every final.
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