A brief history of the adidas Copa Mundial
It’s lauded as being the world’s best-selling football* boot. And as anyone close to the sport can confirm, it’s been an omnipresent piece of kit for several decades. Particularly dear to traditionalists, it’s a model that previously was worn by football legends such as Franz Beckenbauer and Diego Maradona, and currently by stars such as Juventus’ Paulo Dybala and Bayern Munich’s Mats Hummels.
This year (2019) marks the fortieth anniversary of the legendary adidas Copa Mundial, an incredible milestone for any shoe and one with a far-reaching legacy.
The original dates back to 1979, but most recently it was the Copa 19+ anniversary model that was launched on November 13, 2018. It represents the technological pinnacle of the Copa Mundial story, and it inspired us to revisit the milestone boots from the boot’s forty-year run.
Of equal importance to sneaker freaks, we also take a look at a few of the latest street shoes inspired by the Copa Mundial.
* [Taking it back: At T-6 we refuse to use the word soccer to describe the most popular sport in the world. Outside of North America it’s known worldwide as football, which makes sense given it’s played with the foot. Far less logical is the North American use of the word football to describe a sport that is predominantly played using your hands. We differentiate the two by calling the less popular sport American football.]
The original Copa Mundial football boot was designed for the upcoming 1982 FIFA World Cup in Spain. This of course explains the boot’s name: Copa Mundial is Spanish for World Cup. Signature elements of the new design included a kangaroo leather upper and added leather supports at the heel to improve stability.
Very few football boots have celebrated a silver anniversary, and to promote that fact adidas created the Copa Mundial 25th Anniversary edition that incorporated the original boot’s blue logo on its tongue. This commemorative version was sold as a special pack that included the Copa Mundial boot in a special presentation box, leather conditioner, a towel, and even a pair of shoe horns. Like the original 1979 boot, the 25th anniversary edition was manufactured in Germany.
At a time when it’s the norm for manufacturer’s to release wild and myriad colourways for every sneaker and boot, it’s hard to believe that it took adidas thirty-four years to release the first non-black version of the Copa Mundial. This limited edition black-on-white Copa Mundial tested the waters to find out if footballers would accept such a bold change to their ever-popular boot.
Feel the Beat
Now that the colour floodgates had been opened, adidas decided to commemorate the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil with the Samba Pack. After so many years of being offered any colour – so long as it was black – football boot buyers were now being hit over the head with five dramatic colourway options that included orange, yellow, blue, purple and red variations of the boot.
The see-you-later update of the boot not only said goodbye to kangaroo leather, but dropped the Mundial part of the name. Simply called the Copa, this synthetic leather (SL) creation was the first truly twenty-first century version of the football boot. Among the other updates to the design was the use of the new sprint frame outsole.
Reinvented - Again
With the introduction of the Copa 17.1, a model adidas described as the “facelift” Copa, there was a return to premium Kangaroo leather. The colour-blocked upper and streamlined tongue were among the most memorable changes that created the boldest silhouette of the boot to date.
Unveiled at the end of 2017, the dramatic Copa 18.1 was well received, in part because its marriage of leather with adidas’ Primeknit technology. The addition of this engineered, sport-specific knit material promised a football boot that was optimised for movement, performance, and comfort.
Forty Years Later
The fortieth anniversary Copa Mundial fittingly pushes technology further in what adidas describes as being a blend of tradition and modernity. The laceless Copa 19+ features a Fusion Skin upper, an evolution of the Copa’s classic kangaroo treatment that is seamless and less permeable. The tight-fitting Sockfit collar is made of Primeknit, and the shoe uses an Exoframe soleplate that enhances traction and has a stud pattern designed for quick rotations.
Copa 19+ (40th Anniversary)
These understated and luxurious limited-edition shoes mimic the kangaroo leather detailing of the football boot using soft suede. To punctuate its high-end status, the Copa 19+ uses a Boost midsole for ultimate off-pitch comfort. Offered in three colourways: Off White/Cloud White/Solar Red [F36962]; Core Black/Solid Grey/Solar Yellow [F36964]; and Maroon/Maroon/Gold Metallic [G26306].
Copa 70 Year (70th Anniversary)
Also a limited edition model, these Copa Mundial shoes don’t actually celebrate a Copa anniversary, they commemorate the seventieth anniversary of the founding of adidas. To give the design a twist, adidas took the original Copa Mundial and turned it inside out by giving the shoe a Primeknit instead of leather upper. The characteristic Copa Mundial “Bluebird” label was woven directly into the tongue, and a gum outsole adds to the vintage look. Two colourways were made available: Cloud White/Core Black/Red [G26308] and the classic-coloured Core Black/Cloud White/Gold Metallic [F36986].
A budget street shoe that riffs on the Copa 19 design, the Copa Super has clean lines and effectively works as a football boot lookalike. The upper is made from both synthetic and real leather, and traction is provided by a gum rubber outsole. The three colourways for this model include black, white and blue versions of the shoe. [Note: This model is not available from adidas Canada.]