• Technology a big player in a successful game
June, 2014: Short of mankind landing on Mars or aliens landing on earth anytime soon, the Soccer World Cup final is the closest thing the world has to a collective viewing experience. It is the planet’s most widely viewed sporting event. Five-time World Champion, two-times runner-up, and the only country to have taken part in all World Cup editions, Brazil is hosting soccer’s 2014 World Cup, with 32 nations competing including 13 from Europe. An estimated 500,000 fans are expected to pour into the country to witness the month-long tournament comprising a total of 64 matches in twelve cities across Brazil in either new or redeveloped stadiums
India has an old association with football too. Some would say that football is older in the country than even cricket! Football is synonymous with Bengal, although Goa and Kerala will claim equal suzerainty over it. The Bengalis’ passion for the game is legendary and the major Indian football clubs of today were born in Bengal. Some of India’s greatest football players and national team captains hail from the state. Interestingly, the Indian national team debuted at London Olympics in 1948 barefoot, putting up a spectacular play against their opponents, France, who had crawled to victory by scoring a late goal to win 2-1. This was despite the lack of proper guidance, apparel and infrastructure for the Indian National team.
Not just Bengal, Goa has risen steadily in India’s football hierarchy in recent years and the game enjoys deep penetration in Goa. In the last eight editions of the National Football League/I-League, Goan clubs have won six times. Clubs like Dempo, Salgaocar, Churchill Brothers and Vasco carry the Goan flag forward, their ‘cohesive football’ said to be the result of carefully nurtured teams.
Till the 1980s, Kerala gave Bengal a run for its money on the football field. Some commentators connected the popularity of communism and football in the two states with the proletariat roots of both the ideology and the game. FC Kochin, SBT, Premier Tyres, Viva Kerala, Kerala Police and Malabar United stood atop the state’s football culture. Since the early 1990s, however, its fortunes declined steadily. The state’s hopes now rest with Chirag Kerala, its sole representative in the current I-League.
Over the years, national football floundered with the poor infrastructure, equipment and official apathy, as cricket gained significance. However, football is now carving for itself an envious place. This world cup season the popcorn was out and restaurants packed. One cannot ignore the increasing fan following in India and the business that comes along with it.
India is waking up to this business opportunity; The Indian Super Leagues are proof to this change in sporting trend. The renewed interest in the game has opened up avenues for football in India, where investment and interest hope to propel football in India to international standards. The infrastructure, whether it is the stadiums that withstand the many facets of the Indian weather or the availability of proper training equipment like soccer shoes, apparel and ball is a crucial step to creating a world class team. If India is to compete and perform at par with international teams, only the best will do.
As the football fever grips India along with the world, LANXESS makes it a safe and pleasant fever, so to say. The Indian arm of this specialty chemical major has operations at Jhagadia, in Gujarat and another at Nagda, in Madhya Pradesh; the heart of the country. Always a key player in top-level competitive sports, LANXESS offers several solutions for players, fans and organizers alike.
What is football without the ball? Pele to Ronaldo to Messi, they are all actually running around after a bubble made of butyl rubber (BTR), a unique specialty synthetic rubber made by LANXESS which happens to be the material of choice to keep the moisture out and the air in.
Footwear is probably the most important part of a soccer player’s outfit. Incorporated in the soles of modern soccer shoes are high-performance plastics such as Tepex which reinforces the sole, yet remains extremely lightweight. Ethylene-vinyl acetate rubber (EVM) provides the cushioning and stabilizing effect.
All soccer shoes have exchangeable or molded studs of some kind underneath the soles to provide sufficient traction against slipping. Special LANXESS plastic and rubber products such as Levapren are used to fabricate the different types of studs tailor-made to specific types of playing field. The exchangeable studs, usually made of plastic or rubber, are inserted into the sole individually. In the case of molded studs, the rubber or plastic structures are part of the sole and cannot be removed. Shoes for artificial turf are fitted with numerous small studs.
Not only that, LANXESS inorganic pigments have brought beauty and sustainability to sports arenas, popular landmarks and urban infrastructure such as streets, sidewalks and plazas all over the world for decades. In Brazil, the specialty chemicals company is part of the game as well: more than 120 metric tons of inorganic pigments, marketed under the brands Bayferrox and Colortherm, can be found there in architectural and infrastructure projects, bringing color to the world’s biggest soccer event.
With the game gaining ground in India once again, along with recent international tie-ups, the best practices and infrastructure is to come to India. From stadium to seats to shoes – turfs to balls – LANXESS’s presence in soccer is indispensable yet imperceptible.