FIFA might consider including players voicing complaints about the new World Cup competition ball as part of the official festivities leading up to the quadrennial international soccer competition. This year, Adidas introduced the Jabulani, meaning “to celebrate” in isiZulu, for the South African hosted World Cup which kicks off on June 11th. Reactions have been negative at best, with Brazilian goalkeeper Julio Cesar taking a page out of Shaquille O’Neal’s book of witty criticisms by comparing the ball to a plastic toy you might find at a supermarket. Here is what his teammate, Brazilian striker Luis Fabiano, had to say:
“It’s very weird. All of a sudden it changes trajectory on you. It’s like it doesn’t want to be kicked. It’s incredible, it’s like someone is guiding it. You are going to kick it and it moves out of the way. I think it’s supernatural, it’s very bad. I hope to adapt to it as soon as possible, but it’s going to be hard.”
In the interest of honest, even-handed reporting, we should also mention that some players such as Kaka, Michael Ballack, and Frank Lampard — all under contract with Adidas — have praised the ball. I’m going have to take a wait and see stance on this one, though. Because we see these complaints every time the new ball is introduced, it really comes down to how the players react once they are out on the pitch and if the fans can notice a significant disparity from the expected level of play.
Players not happy with ‘supermarket’ WCup ball [AP]