For serious collectors of soccer memorabilia, match used balls are highly prized. Unfortunately, authentic items are rare and the market is filled with fakes. When it comes to establishing authenticity of match-used memorabilia like shirts and balls – provenance is key. Provenance is defined as the place of origin or earliest known history of something. It is up to buyers and experts to determine whether the provenance is accurate and worth consideration.
Provenance is not always so clear cut, and anyone can make up a story. That’s why documentation like letters, photographs, and signatures are often necessary.
You can find some match used balls online – from eBay to SportsMemorabilia.com. According to a recent eBay listing, a ball used in a Europa League match featuring Napoli and Real Sociedad was listed for over $1,000. On one eBay listing a ball used in Juventus’ 4-0 win over Spezia in the 2021 Serie A season sold for over $2,000. According to its listing, Ronaldo scored two goals in the match and signed the ball. Match used equipment from Major League Soccer often sells for much less than items from Europe and South America. According to a SportsMemorabilia.com listing, a ball used in a match featuring FC Dallas during the 2018 MLS season was signed by players and was listed at $250.
Match used footballs have always been in demand. Sometimes they have been a point of contention too. Controversy over the type of ball used in the 1930 FIFA World Cup Final between Uruguay and Argentina threatened to derail the game’s first tournament final. With no “official” ball in use for the tournament, both Uruguay and Argentina proposed that their nation’s ball be used in the final. Uruguay preferred their “T-shape” model, while the Argentina delegation offered their “Tiento” ball. In the end, Argentina was granted use of their ball in the first half of the match and Uruguay would use their ball in the second half. Uruguay triumphed 4-2. According to Goldin Auctions, the ball used in the second half (pictured above) sold at auction for over $3,000 in July 2021.
There have been bigger sales. In 2010, a South African based charity sold one ball used in the 2010 World Cup Final between the Netherlands and Spain for $74,000.