Have FIFA Scored An Own Goal With The Jabulani?

It seems that FIFA have shot themselves in the foot with the new Jabulani ball. Although introduced in late 2009, the ball doesn’t seem to have been used in too many club tournaments. Before the games started, it was the goalkeepers who were complaining about the ball and its vagrancies. Rob Green and the infinitely more interestingly named Farouzi Chaouchi have both suffered at the hands of the ball, though neither can claim that the ball moved in the air. But what seems to have been the bigger affliction is the complete lack of control experienced by the outfield players. Combined with the altitude in some of the venues, we have seen dozens of shots and free-kicks sail harmlessly over the bar, or crosses over hit by miles. We’ve had a significantly lower goals/ game ratio than either of the previous 2 world cups. Borefests and clumsy football have dominated the screens, making the vuvuzelas the most important debate of the cup.

This is apparently the roundest ball to be used (well it’ll be great to have gotten rid of those square bits from the last world cup!) We’ve had all kinds of advancements in the ball, from way back when the ball was like a fist of leather strips. The Zeitgeist ball which was introduced at the early part of the decade replaced the pentagon-hexagon structure with a different set of designs which reduced the number of joints. One of the big advantages there was that the ball would gain less weight when wet. The Jabulani ball doesn’t seem to have any specific benefits apart from being more perfectly spherical, which as far as we can see is a feature and not a benefit.

But as of now, it’s the Jabulani and not the vuvuzelas that should be banned! It seems that one of the only leagues that have been playing with the Jabulani ball are the Bundesliga. Is the penny dropping yet? Is this a deep conspiracy between Adidas and the German FA? More likely it’s simply that the other FA’s across the world didn’t realize that they needed their footballers to get enough experience with the Jabulani ball and are paying the price.

Hopefully over the course of the tournament, the teams will get their heads and their legs around the ball and we’ll get that torrent of goals we were promised. Else FIFA will have some epxlaining to do for ruining what promised before the start to be one of the best World Cups ever.

PS, since we started writing this, Uruguay and Argentina have both now shown us that it’s actually quite possible to create and score lots of goals with this ball, so may be people are really getting their heads & feet around the Jabulani!

%d bloggers like this: