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07 July 2020

Sheffield Hallam launches new PhD study with FIFA

Sheffield Hallam University is launching a PhD study with FIFA to explore the dynamics of how new types of footballs behave and interact with different playing surfaces, to help improve the game and inform football governance


Press contact: Nicola Swire | n.swire@shu.ac.uk

One man tackling another who is possession of a football

The manufacturing of footballs has evolved in the last decade – with thermal bonding, new panel shapes and innovative materials being seen increasingly regularly.

In order to generate a better understanding of how these new footballs behave and whether test requirements may need updating to account for new properties and unlock new potential, FIFA and Hallam are launching a PhD study that will provide scientific insights and inform change.

The project will offer a unique opportunity for a student to work directly with FIFA and Hallam’s Sports Engineering Research Group, with the outcomes and learnings leading to very real impacts on global football. The closing date for applications is Friday 10 July.

Football surface interaction represents a fundamental characteristic of the game as it shapes opportunities for players when passing or striking the ball. The research programme aims to generate insights into how FIFA can best adapt the requirements for footballs going forward.

Addressing a key challenge in modern football

Dr Marcus Dunn, research fellow in Sheffield Hallam’s Sports Engineering Research Group, said: "We have worked with FIFA on numerous projects over the years, so we are very pleased to launch this PhD scholarship that addresses key challenges in modern football.

"The football-surface interaction represents a fundamental characteristic of football, as this interaction shapes how the game is played. Since 1996, FIFA’s Quality Programme for Footballs has ensured the quality of footballs worldwide. 

"However, and since the emergence of new materials, manufacturing techniques, artificial and hybrid turf systems, and even footballs

embedded with tracking technologies, FIFA has identified an urgent need to improve understanding of the football-surface interaction.

"This PhD scholarship will develop an advanced numerical model of this interaction, through a series of field- and laboratory-based experiments. This model will then be used to simulate a range of interactions, to quantify relationships between mechanical properties of the football and surface, to inform future football governance."

The Sports Engineering Research Group, which sits within the Sport and Physical Activity Research Centre, is an internationally renowned centre of excellence for research and knowledge transfer in the field of sports engineering, and will support the PhD project through its world-leading research facilities and expertise on ball-surface interaction modelling.

The closing date for applications is Friday 10 July. For further information, visit the Find a PhD website.

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