You can’t play soccer without a soccer ball.
The soccer ball is the primary piece of equipment that players use to score points.
Because of how important the soccer ball is, it may not be a surprise at all to know that it can sell for a pretty high price.
However, some soccer balls have very expensive price tags on them.
It may make you wonder why they’re so expensive.
Why Are Soccer Balls So Expensive? (10 Reasons)
Soccer balls can cost anywhere from around $50 to $250.
A few factors like specially-designed soccer balls, the materials used on the surface of the ball, and how advanced the ball is can determine how expensive the soccer ball is.
Let’s look at these factors in more detail.
1. Diamond Soccer Balls
Although most soccer balls don’t go quite this far, it’s worth noting that, now and then, a special occasion can cause a soccer ball to be quite expensive.
One such occasion was the FIFA World Cup in 2010.
An artist named Shimansky put together an incredible soccer to commemorate the event.
He used 6,620 white diamonds and 2,640 black diamonds to make the ball.
Altogether, the ball has a value of $2.5 million.
Considering that this ball is likely a collector’s item now, its value is probably a lot higher.
The sheer value of this ball primarily comes from the diamonds, however.
Diamonds are precious gems.
The value of a diamond depends on a few factors like its carat weight, cut, color, and how clear it is.
Although you likely won’t find diamond soccer balls on the standard market, you’re sure to find other, strange, soccer balls that use materials that aren’t standard.
Those soccer balls are going to cost a lot of money because they’re more for art than actual practical use.
Soccer balls are expensive when they’re used for art.
Most expensive soccer balls use polyurethane to cover their synthetic leather body.
Back in the day, soccer balls used real leather.
However, leather doesn’t perform well in certain weather conditions.
Since soccer continues to play in the rain, leather soccer balls would quickly degrade and become useless.
As such, there was a need for a new type of skin.
Real leather got replaced with synthetic leather.
However, even synthetic leather could only last so long after taking abuse from several games.
Soccer ball manufacturers went back to the drawing board and started coating the surface of the ball with polyurethane.
It’s worth noting that only soccer ball manufacturers who make high-quality soccer balls use pure polyurethane.
Cheaper brands use a mix of polyurethane with something else.
That’s because polyurethane is quite expensive.
Although it’s widely used in several different applications, that also means there’s a lot of demand for polyurethane.
Soccer ball manufacturers are only one part of the market looking to get access to the material to coat their soccer balls with it.
A lot of polyurethane companies are also trying to make themselves more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly.
To do so, they usually have to take on more costs to produce their polyurethane in a safe and clean way.
Since it costs more to make polyurethane, soccer ball manufacturers have to buy it at more expensive prices.
The performance that polyurethane soccer balls provide is another reason they’re expensive.
They’re lightweight and impact well.
That means players can get more power behind their kicks.
Since it impacts a player’s performance, there’s more demand for those types of soccer balls.
That also increases its price.
Soccer balls are expensive because they use a polyurethane coating.
3. Network Of Interior Layers
Another major expense that impacts the price of a soccer ball is the network of inner layers inside a soccer ball.
While a player kicks the polyurethane-coated surface of the ball, the amount of give that the ball has comes down to how many layers are within it.
Cheap soccer balls only have a layer or two of cotton behind the surface of the ball.
More expensive balls have four layers or more.
Each layer uses cotton which gets applied to the interior of the synthetic later with a latex adhesive.
The more layers that you have, the more expensive the ball is because the production costs are higher.
Cotton isn’t always cheap.
Cheaper soccer balls likely use cheap cotton.
More expensive soccer balls likely use more expensive cotton.
The difference is the cushion and quality between the two.
High-quality cotton is going to last longer than poor-quality cotton.
That’s important for something that sees a lot of abuse like a soccer ball.
When the interior cotton layers start to break down, then you get soft spots in the ball.
This impacts its ability to roll on the ground.
Since it impedes its movement, it makes playing the game a bit harder.
You’re not just playing against other players, you’re also fighting against the ball.
Soft spots can also make your kicks go off the mark.
The way your foot hits a soft spot can cause it to go in a direction different from where you had intended.
That can also impact your performance.
Since professional players want to get the best performance out of a ball that they can, the quality of the cotton is important.
However, since soccer ball manufacturers have to spend more money to get more high-quality cotton, it means their production costs are higher.
Soccer balls are expensive because their interior materials are sometimes expensive to source.
4. Butyl Bladders
The inside of a soccer ball is just as important as the outside.
Manufacturers refer to the inside of a soccer ball as the bladder.
It’s the part that gets filled with air.
A high-quality bladder will be able to hold onto the air for some time.
A low-quality bladder will start to lose air, especially after use.
There are several different types of bladders, but they tend to fall into three main categories.
Those categories include:
Earlier soccer balls used rubber to form their bladder.
However, new inventions found better materials to form the bladder.
Latex is one of the cheaper options.
It’s a relatively cheap material that manufacturers can easily fit inside a mold.
Cheaper soccer balls tend to use latex bladders.
A more expensive bladder is a butyl bladder.
It’s more expensive because it requires a bit more production than latex bladders.
It’s also better at holding onto the air than latex bladders.
This is important because one problem professionals might face is air leakage from their balls during play.
Because latex bladders don’t hold air as well, they’re prone to leakage through high-impact play.
As the ball loses air, it becomes softer.
That can impact how well a player is able to perform with it.
It can make kicking the ball go in a different direction than they had intended.
It also means the ball doesn’t travel as far when kicked.
Players will spend more time inflating the ball than playing.
Butyl bladders are able to hold air better and longer.
Since it improves a player’s performance and is more efficient, it costs more money.
Soccer balls are expensive when they use a butyl bladder.
5. Thermally-Bonded Sealing
Another reason soccer balls are expensive is that they use thermally-bonded sealing.
Back in the day, a soccer ball received stitching to put together the different parts of the ball.
In the days before sewing machines or factories, each ball had a person sewing them together by hand.
Sewing machines then sped up the process.
The ball would run through the machine and the machine would sew a pattern.
While some soccer balls still get put together with stitching, they’re usually the cheaper ones.
That’s because there’s a new way to put a soccer ball together that provides better performance.
It’s thermal bonding.
Thermal bonding works by gluing the different soccer panels together, then bonding, or sealing, it all in place with heat.
The heat essentially melts the panels into each other.
As the glue cools, it forms a tight bond.
Thermal bonding has a few advantages over stitching.
The main advantage is that it keeps water out of the soccer ball.
With stitches, even if those stitches are tight together, there’s always going to be some water that gets inside the ball.
This can create a problem, especially if the ball is unable to drain itself out.
A ball could get filled with water and end up becoming heavier.
Since it’s water inside the ball, it will also move.
That can impact the ball’s direction and its ability to get kicked.
Water can also soften the cotton inside the ball and make it deteriorate.
A better option is to ensure water can’t get inside the ball at all.
That’s where thermal bonding has the advantage.
The glue doesn’t just hold the different panels together.
It also seals the gaps to ensure nothing can get inside it.
The result is a high-performance ball that can last some time.
Soccer balls are expensive because thermal bonding creates a high-quality product.
6. Microchips And Player Data
While soccer balls used to just be synthetic leather and a bladder, that has changed in recent times.
In the age of technology and data, professional soccer balls also sometimes come with a microchip.
The microchip can accumulate certain data about its movements which can help teams better understand what they’re doing right and wrong.
In FIFA, the microchip helps the referees make fair calls, particularly on the matter of offsides.
Soccer balls are, essentially, becoming smarter.
They’re able to offer more information which allows both players and teams to improve their skills or plays.
This type of technology doesn’t come cheap, however.
For one, it’s new technology.
Since it’s in its infancy, it’s pretty expensive to make.
Once microchipping soccer balls becomes more common, the costs will start to go down.
Since manufacturers aren’t at that stage yet, they’re paying high production costs to make their soccer balls smarter.
Microchips, in general, can be expensive to make, too.
They require several different parts and materials.
If there’s a shortage of some of those parts, then the price is going to be quite high.
Manufacturers already face high costs when producing high-quality soccer balls.
Adding a microchip only makes their production costs even more expensive.
To offset that cost, they have to raise the price of their soccer ball.
Soccer balls are expensive because they use smart technology to improve performance.
7. Official Match Balls
Soccer balls are also expensive when they’re official match balls.
Every time the World Cup comes around, FIFA chooses a particular ball that’s going to be used exclusively in the World Cup tournament.
Sometimes, they might choose a few and change them throughout the Cup.
When FIFA chooses a ball, they’re creating an official match ball.
The manufacturer of that ball, NIKE or Adidas, for example, will then produce the same ball for the masses.
This allows people who don’t necessarily play in leagues that are playing in the World Cup to play with a great ball, too.
Even those who just play casually can buy a great ball.
This makes the soccer ball expensive for a few reasons.
The first is that FIFA only chooses balls that meet their extremely high standards.
Because FIFA pushes for a fair game, they ensure that the ball used in the game is always the same.
The ball in question may have a few additional features, but it must always be the right size and weight.
This means that other soccer players can be sure that the ball they buy meets those standards.
They’re playing with a ball that professionals also use.
It’s a premium ball that’s endorsed by FIFA.
Because of that, the soccer ball comes at an expensive price.
Another reason soccer balls are expensive is that FIFA certifies them.
Even if FIFA doesn’t choose the particular ball for use in the World Cup, they do certify certain balls now and then.
The certification essentially means that the ball matches its standards for professional play.
Because it has that certification, manufacturers can increase the price a bit.
It’s more valuable now.
FIFA is often the last word when it comes to soccer.
If a company can get FIFA certification for its product, then it’s like having Dior or Cartier sign off on one’s jewelry line.
It elevates it.
It also means that the manufacturer probably spent a lot of time making a great deal.
Those production costs make the ball expensive, too.
Soccer balls are expensive when they receive certification from FIFA.
9. Shape Retention
Another factor that makes soccer balls expensive is their ability to retain their shape.
Although the interior layers play a role in helping the ball keep its shape, it’s all down to the materials and their quality.
Balls that are able to retain their shape are more expensive than those that can’t.
That’s because players are often willing to pay more for a ball that holds its shape.
Balls that don’t hold their shape well likely use cheaper materials.
Since it’s cheaper to make those types of soccer balls, the manufacturer can sell them at cheaper prices.
If you see an expensive soccer ball at the store, then it probably has great shape retention.
10. Air And Drag Technology
A final reason soccer balls are expensive is that they invest in air and drag technology.
Some manufacturers spend a lot of money researching ways to help soccer balls stay aloft in the air longer.
A problem some soccer balls have is that there’s too much drag on them.
This can land the ball prematurely or even send it in the wrong direction.
Too much drag, for example, might pull the ball in one direction rather than where the player had intended for it to go.
As such, some manufacturers might experiment with different grooves to help alleviate the drag.
Experimentation costs money.
New implementations cost money.
Better technology costs money.
As such, manufacturers have to sell their soccer balls at higher prices.
Soccer balls are expensive when they offer better air and drag technology.
Soccer balls have come a long way from being simple leather-bound balls with a rubber bladder.
All the factors listed above can make a soccer ball far more expensive than some of its cheaper alternatives.