Thursday, June 03, 2010
Is is a bird, a plane, or the adidas Jabulani?
As the FIFA World Cup 2010 is about to kick off, once again players are complaining about the new adidas football, the adidas Jabulani (meaning to celebrate in Zulu). Apparently the ball is difficult to control and a nightmare for goalkeepers to judge its flight. For the last 11 competitions, adidas has introduced a new ball design and not for the first time it presents frustration among the players. Mastery of the new ball usually takes until the second week of the competition before strikers and keepers feel confident with its flight trajectory and behaviour. Unlike previous competitions, adidas launched the ball last year and players have been able to train and play with it. According to some the ball feels harder and can hurt the foot when kicked. FIFA has strict regulations on the dimensions of their match balls. These weigh between 420g and 445g , and must be between 68.5 cm and 69.5 cm in circumference. The Jabulani weighs 440g and measures 69cm. Adidas have denied the ball is adversely affected by the high altitude although concede different air pressure at altitude will make the ball move faster. The colourful Jabulani has 11 colours (it is adidas' 11th World Cup match ball), and there are 11 tribes and 11 official languages in South Africa. It was developed in conjunction with researchers from Loughborough University and has eight panels (normally a match ball has 14), which are 3D, and spherically together in a perfectly round fashion. The grooved surface of the Jabulani is thought to improve its aerodynamics (more symmetrical in flight) and the improved static friction helps keepers with their grip of the ball. (sic. I suppose in the sense of a wee boy peeved with being beaten takes his football home because it is his ball. The main sponsor of the competition insists in introducing new competition balls in the full knowledge it does upset the players and literally throws a wobbly into the game. Claims have already been made adidas sponsored clubs and players get prioritised advantage but all such claims are denied by the company).