October 2014

Ball control

In this crazy world in which we live, where we share information and communicate with strangers thousands of miles away at the touch of a button, no sporting event is complete without an accompanying cacophony of polarised opinions and pointlessly overblown outrage. Fans, pundits and players alike take to Twitter, Facebook and all the rest to join in the seemingly endless debate. Football, with its huge global following, is particularly susceptible to this, and this Summer’s World Cup in Brazil was no exception. There was, however, one topic notable by its absence; the quality of the ball.

Even football fans may struggle to recall the name of the official 2014 World Cup football. It was designed, as every World Cup ball has been since 1970, by Adidas, and was named the Brazuca. According to Adidas, the official World Cup ‘has been and will always be the main actor, the most talked-about object of this fantastic event, the icon if you will.’[1] And yet the Brazuca was far less discussed than the ball of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, the Jabulani, because unlike its predecessor, no one had a problem with it.

Fig 1 The Jabulani in action at the 2010 World Cup

The 2010 World Cup in South Africa was in many ways a poor tournament. Whereas the Brazilian World Cup only served up a couple of stinkers (the sleep inducing semi-final featuring Holland and Argentina the prime example), even the Spanish winners in 2010 only bothered to score 8 goals in their 7 games. If you want to put someone off football for life, force them to watch the group stage match between England and Algeria a few times. The main culprit for this comparative lack of excitement and goals, according to the players, was the ball.

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