It’s not just the teams that go head-to-head every four years. Just as competitive is the battle waged between Adidas and Nike over who can bring out the most eye-catching boots. This year both companies have forged an unlikely link between your gran’s favourite pastime and Luis Suarez’s feet by looking to knitting for inspiration. Part sock, part boot, the Nike Magista boot is designed to feel like an extension of the player’s body. Similar thinking lies behind Adidas’ Primeknit offering. Despite the added comfort, these boots apparently offer as much protection as before – even Rooney’s metatarsal should be safe.
Goal line technology
Four years ago England were trailing 2 - 1 to Germany when Frank Lampard looped the ball over the German keeper’s head, sending it bouncing down off the crossbar and over the line. Everyone saw it was a goal – apart from the referee. This controversy was the final straw, prompting Fifa to finally secure goal line technology for Brazil 2014. The tender was won by German firm GoalControl, whose system works using 14 high-speed cameras stationed around the pitch. When the ball crosses the line, a watch worn by the referee vibrates. If only GoalControl had been in place in South Africa – better late than never, eh.
Broadcast in 4K resolution
Fifa has partnered with Sony to broadcast three matches during the World Cup in 4K resolution. Also known as Ultra HD, the 4,000 pixel technology will allow you to see every tackle, every pained expression, and every bead of sweat in a resolution that’s four times the definition of standard HD. The first hyper-realistic broadcast will be a game from round 16 on 28 June, a quarter final on 4 July, and the final on 13 July to be shown in selected cinemas worldwide or, if you’ve got a flash TV, from the comfort of your front room.
The Brazuca is the 12th football created by Adidas especially for the World Cup. Some criticised the Jabulani, created four years ago for the South African World Cup, for being too smooth, meaning it had a tendency to spin in the air unpredictably. Brazilian striker Luis Fabiano famously said the ball was “supernatural”. So this time around, the Brazuca is much rougher, boasting raised nubs all over, and it has been tested extensively in wind tunnels. The ball is also wrapped in six thermally-bonded propeller-shaped panels to improve aerodynamic accuracy and ensure it has a stable flight through the air.
Referee vanishing spray
This vanishing marker spray has been used in Brazilian and Argentinian football for years to stop cheekier footballers creeping forwards when they’re about to take a free kick. When one is awarded near a penalty area, the referee sprays a line on the pitch 10 yards from where the ball is placed – the correct distance at which to take a free kick – and the line vanishes within a minute. It’s set to make its international debut during the World Cup.
No more wheelchairs
Forget goal-line technology, super-aerodynamic balls and knitted boots, the most important piece of tech at Brazil 2014 will be on show not during the matches, but in the opening ceremony. On 12 June billions will tune in to see a young paraplegic Brazilian kick off the tournament using an advanced exoskeleton controlled by his own mind. Scientists in charge of the project herald it as the first glimpse of a future without wheelchairs.