Since January 1, 1996 only those outdoor footballs which have been tested and meet the demanding quality criteria, bearing either of the official markings 'FIFA APPROVED', 'FIFA INSPECTED' or 'IMS International Matchball Standard,' are allowed to be used in FIFA competition matches and competition matches under the auspices of the six continental Confederations. As of January 1, 2000 the quality testing and certification has also become compulsory for Futsal balls used for international matches under the auspices of FIFA and the Confederations and the same applies for Beach Soccer balls since May 2006.
FIFA Quality Concept
The FIFA Quality Concept for Footballs is a test programme for Outdoor, Futsal and Beach Soccer footballs. Manufacturers have the possibility to enter into a licensing agreement for the use of the prestigious 'FIFA APPROVED' and 'FIFA INSPECTED' Quality Marks on footballs which have passed a rigorous testing procedure. As an alternative there is the possibility to use the wording 'IMS International Matchball Standard'. Footballs bearing this designation have passed the same quality requirements as 'FIFA INSPECTED' footballs. The use of this designation is however not subject to a licence fee and any association with FIFA is prohibited.
There are two levels of criteria for the three designations. Footballs applying for the category 'FIFA INSPECTED' or the technically equivalent 'IMS - International Matchball Standard' must pass the following six rigorous laboratory tests: