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Tuesday, 15 June 2010

A Load of Balls!

Much has been been made of the new football for the 2010 World Cup Finals. The Adidas manufactured ball, named ‘The Jabulani’  has received a seemingly never ending  chorus of dissatisfaction from players and coaches alike. Long before South Africa kicked the tournament off last week, the game’s leading stars were voicing their concern.

Strangely, it isn’t just goalkeepers that are complaining about the latest incarnation of a design that should surely be relatively standard the world over…

The effects of the new ball have been plain to see in the opening 5 days of the tournament, 13 more goals had been  scored at this stage in 2002 and 9 more shots had hit the net in Germany 4 years ago. The main problem seems to be the weight of the ball, or rather the lack of… With players complaining of being unable to gauge the weight of passes or shots with a football that must be a world apart from the one that has served the game, without issue, for decades.

Quite why FIFA think it necessary to introduce a new football for each tournament, is beyond me. Change the printed pattern, fine. But why fix something that isn’t broken? Adidas have defended their creation, sighting the altitude of the various World Cup venues as the reason for the ball’s apparent erratic nature. They even put the ‘hate campaign’ down to sportswear rivals Nike, claiming they have stirred up all the bad press surrounding the Official World Cup product.

So it would seem that this new ‘Jabulani’ ball is a totally new beast, shouldn’t matter too much though, should it? After all we are talking about the elite footballers this planet has to offer, and they have had the opportunity to practice with it prior to the tournament haven’t they… well apparently not, at least in England’s case!

FIFA insist that the new football was offered to ALL the nations that are in South Africa to use in their domestic leagues last season. Due to The Football Association’s deal with Nike to provide The Premiership with footballs they had to decline the offer in favour of a Nike manufactured ball. If that wasn’t bad enough, the English National team have a similar deal with Umbro. The upshot of all this is that the first time an England squad member used the ‘Jabulani’ was in the World Cup warm-up against Japan, a game in which England had 2 own-goals to thank for an unconvincing 2-1 win. Hardly the best preparation for a team that claim to be ‘in it, to win it’.

Incidentally, the countries that did take up FIFA’s offer to use the new ball in their domestic leagues include Germany, Japan, Argentina and Netherlands – All of which won their opening game, with the Germans offering the best performance to date.

I understand that a contract is worth a lot of money in football these days but for none of the England squad to have played a match, or even trained with this new ball until 7 days prior to the tournament is a total joke! Surely something could have been organised to give Robert Green and co. at least one competitive experience with the ‘Jabulani’ before the game against The United States.

I’m still not sure if Aaron Lennon’s end product would have improved though, perhaps if he was allowed to use his hands…

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  1. A part of me thinks, hold on, these are the best players in the world, paid astronomical amounts of money. Surely they should be able to perform with any ball.

    But then I wonder how I would feel if I had to use a spanner every day that came out of a cracker.

    Mind you - if I was paid £100k a week I think I would probably put up with it!!!

  2. we will be ready for the pens in the semi final then all we have to do is put the ball on the pen spot at the other end of the pitch and let the distance do the rest problem solved


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