2010 FIFA World Cup: Adidas' New Ball Lambasted by Goalkeepers: Again

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2010 FIFA World Cup: Adidas' New Ball Lambasted by Goalkeepers: Again

With its eight thermally-bonded, three-dimensional panels and GripnGroove technology for aerodynamic enhancement, the Adidas Jabulani is meant to be the truest, most sophisticated football yet.

It is the official ball for the 2010 World Cup and has been produced by Adidas, who have been making the tournament ball since official World Cup balls were introduced in 1970.

International teams have been given the chance to get to grips with Adidas’ official ball for a few weeks now and, yet again, it has received stinging criticism from goalkeepers.

Inter and Brazil "keeper Julio Cesar, fresh from his Champions League victory, described it as ‘like the balls you can buy in supermarkets."

England have practiced with the new ball in their training camp in Graz, with several outfield players complaining that the Jabulani swerves too much and has unpredictable movement in the air.

But haven’t we heard all this before?

In 2006, the Adidas Teamgeist received similar criticism , with England goalkeeper Paul Robinson describing it as ‘a water-polo ball’ and "very goalkeeper unfriendly."

The 2002 match ball, the Fevernova, was the recipient of more grievances, wit Belgian coach Jacky Munaron calling it "too light," Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon blasting it as a "ridiculous kiddy’s bouncing ball" and Slovenia striker Zlatko Zahovic saying: “It is the worst ball I’ve ever played with."

Surely Adidas can’t have got it wrong so badly, so often?

It seems, at least according to the world’s goalies, they have.

Their new Champions League ball has received similar criticism and, as Iker Casillas put it “The [ball] is a total disaster…I’m sorry but it has reached a point where it cannot be.”

But looking at the statistics, the opposite appears to be true. Since the Tricolore ball in 1998, there have been progressively fewer goals scored in World Cup finals tournaments.

2006 (Teamgeist): 147 goals, 2.30 per game
2002 (Fevernova): 161 goals, 2.56 per game
1998 (Tricolore): 171 goals, 2.7 per game

Now, of course, there are far more factors in this than just the ball, but if it was as difficult to handle as has been suggested, then surely goal avalanches would have been more regular in later tournaments?

Adidas were unavailable for comment at the time of writing.

This article was written by Jon Naylor for Half Volley , the half sport, half science website.

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