Tuesday, June 15, 2010

It’s all wrong with the ball

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

The first week into the FIFA World Cup has seen a few upsets and a few controversies. The biggest controversy is however with the official ball of the tournament. Adidas Jabulani ball is being touted as the enemy of keepers in the World Cup. If this statement needed any example the England versus USA match saw English goalkeeper Robert Green make a mess of a shot in his hand conceding a goal and the match ending in a 1-1 draw.

Adidas on its part has denied these allegations and said that ball was a result of long research and behaved perfectly. The 440-gram Jabulani, derives it’s name from Zulu language in which it means “to rejoice’” It is ironical that most of the teams around the world are doing anything but rejoicing the ball.The company also claimed that it was the roundest and the most perfect ball ever built in the history of the game.

Adidas has been making the World Cup ball since Mexico hosted the event in 1970. Jabulani is the first ball for the tournament to be molded of eight “thermally bonded 3D panels, creating a perfect sphere, replacing previous models with flat panels, according to FIFA’s website. The ball has an aerodynamic profile enhancing control and stabilizing flight, it said. The company is also claiming that all participating teams had approved the new ball in February.

But the fact remains that players from around the world especially the goalkeepers have been complaining about the ball. The argument is that they are finding it difficult to judge the bounce and swing of the ball and thus unable to hold onto it. The situation is so bad that one team has even started practicing rugby ball to prepare themselves for the unpredictable Jabulani. The ball is now being touted as a match changing factor in this World Cup.

One thing is for sure that the ball doesn’t give advantage to any team. Logically it still remains a fair game as both the teams will be using the same ball. The problem is that even the strikers are finding it difficult to judge the speed and swing of the ball. The only thing that the fans from around the world should hope for is that the ball doesn’t become a deciding factor in any match.


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