Monday, June 14, 2010

The Stupid Ball

Every World Cup comes with its own official ball which is used for all matches in the tournament. FIFA usually creates a new ball for the tournament in the interest of fairness (officially). The thinking is that if none of the teams had ever used the ball before, then no one has an advantage right?

The official World Cup ball this time is called the “Jubulani”, which means to celebrate. So far, the only thing to celebrate about it is how weird it is. Adidas, the maker of the “Jubulani”, had to fend off questions from all corners but from the matches I had watched so far…the teams have a point.

The ball is strange. I have seen a lot of overhit crosses where the ball just refused to come down. Instead of dropping, the ball seems to carry and just float in the air for an extra few seconds. However that is nothing but a minor complaint compare to the main problem of the ball, the bounce!

The main problem I see with the ball is the bounce. When a high ball hit the ground, the bounce is very high and the ball, more likely than not, will go over the player’s head. However when the ball is low, the ball don’t really bounce but skimmed the surface! Players seem to have discovered this because shots are coming in hard and low. The aim is to make the ball bounce just before it reached the goalkeeper because instead of bouncing true, the ball would skip to the side of the keeper. Already 2 goals in the tournament had been blamed on this and in the Ghana game last night, the keeper didn’t even attempted to catch the ball when a low shot came in. He just spread himself wide to block the shot and take his chances that the rebound would fall to a defender!

Personally, I’m not a fan of having a new ball every World Cup (what’s wrong with using any old ball?), and I think it would be sad if teams are knock out not by the quality of their play but by the unpredictable bounce of the ball. In every World Cup, there will always be heroes and villains but the greatest villain this World Cup has already been decided. It’s the stupid dammed ball!

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