Even in India, the FIFA craze is undeniable. The footballing event the world has been waiting for makes us stay up till the wee hours of the morning, cheering for our favourite teams. We all know the greats in the game like Neymar, Cristiano Ronaldo, Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi and all the others. We know of the famous stadiums, and the great country of Brazil that is hosting the game this year. We've even seen the various ads by sporting brands like Adidas and Nike, as well as the one by Dr Dre's Beats. But do we know about the men behind FIFA? We're not talking about the federation that governs international football. We're talking about the men behind the studs, the stadiums, the football and more.
Lanxess,a company's which primarily deals with polymers, intermediate products and specialty chemicals, rubber and plastics has had a hand in competitive sports for years. And this year, they've had their hand in the inner mechanisms of the biggest footballing event in the world.
From 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 arguably the most essential part of a player's kit. 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.
Despite continuous contact with the ball, grass, soil, and water, the leather remains virtually unscathed. Applied in gossamer-thin layers, the synthetic polymers used – such as Aquaderm, Bayderm or Euderm from the polyacrylate and polyurethane families – make the leather robust.
-The FIFA Ball-
The official ball used in all FIFA matches is made out of butyl rubber (BTR), a bubble like substance, with a unique specialty synthetic rubber made by Lanxess. This happens to be the material of choice to keep the moisture out and the air in. The Butyl rubber used by the company offers excellent properties that allow the retention of air, making it an important component in the manufacture of the aforementioned ball. It also has a high level of impermeability to gases and liquids as an added advantage.
Professional soccer cannot be played on sub-standard surfaces. The ultra-smooth surface of artificial turf and modern hard courts permit a much faster game and better ball control while ruling out surprises for the players. Polymers such as polypropylene have proven ideal for the artificial blades of grass, and to ensure that they stay green despite rain and sun, many manufacturers opt for Bayferrox or Colortherm inorganic pigments. Keltan granules are incorporated into some artificial turf surfaces, because this ethylene-propylene rubber (EPDM) makes the surface softer and reduces the risk of injury in the event of tackles.
Lanxess’ products also extends to the fans. A polyamide seat can bear up to 600 kilograms so as to withstand the dynamic loads exerted by a fan sitting, jumping up, cheering and occasionally slumping back down in disappointment. Weather may play spoilsport with the game on the field but not the stands. Hailstones, ice, rain, snow and hours of sun have no effect on the plastic shells which are also almost totally non-flammable. Injection-molded in a single shot, the seats do not have any sharp edges or seams. A combination of different products, such as Macrolex, Levagard and Disflamoll, also enable these seats to be designed in any color.
It seems from seats to shoes, turfs to balls Lanxess’ presence in soccer is quite prominent.