The adidas Jabulani Controversy

By - June 17th, 2010

adidas jabulani 1 The adidas Jabulani Controversy

Like some of the 2010 FIFA World Cup advertisements have been preaching, all it really takes, is one moment, or even one second, to make a man into a legend, or push him down into the abyss of nothingness (or perhaps, with Rooney’s imagined desolate future in Nike’s Write The Future campaign, end up in a caravan). June 12th, was such a moment. It was a moment we held our breaths simultaneously, as we watched the adidas Jabulani skidded off Clint “Clintinho” Dempsey’s foot and rolled quite ungracefully into the goal, followed by a even more ungraceful saving attempt by England’s goalkeeper, Robert Green. That was also the moment, when the adidas Jabulani controversy has officially been lifted from news pieces, reviews and blog coverages that only soccer fanatics seem to care about, and turned into something everyone can chime in on. Why? Because, many have attributed to the uncharacteristic loss to the ball instead of the player. After that fateful game, even the U.S. keeper Tim Howard expressed sympathy for Green and said that “[the ball] is doing really silly things,”. Howard is not the only goalkeeper to speak out against the ball, prior to the tournament, many goalkeepers have mentioned that the ball is difficult to handle and worked against goalkeepers because it is unpredictable.

To fully grasp what made the adidas Jabulani so controversial, we need to first understand what it is. The adidas Jabulani (Jabulani means “to celebrate”) is not only acclaimed to be the roundest soccer ball, but it also has the highest FIFA rating, is extremely lightweight, and has been specially developed in partnership with Loughborough University. Getting a little technical, the Jabulani is created from eight thermally bonded EVA 3D panels, reduced from 14 panels used before. It is spherically molded to achieve the undistorted roundness and thus, supposed to deliver unparalleled accuracy for the players. The engineers at Loughborough University said that this is the “most consistent ball ever manufactured”, and will allow the best players in the world to showcase their skills because its shape allows it to fly through the air more smoothly, and also hit targets more reliably.

The production process is nothing short of byzantine and technical. The engineers used wind tunnels to aerodynamically design grooves for the ball. The new grooves are made with the new adidas “Grip N’ Groove” technology. The difference between this ball and some other soccer balls is that it is seamless. In the past, the direction in which the ball goes has been determined by its natural seams. Since the Jabulani doesn’t have seams, engineers have the freedom to place grooves where it is needed to make ball look more symmetrical in flight, thus more stable and give the control back to the players.

So far so good? So what exactly is the issue here? One of the most common criticism the adidas Jabulani has received is that it’s movement is unpredictable. When England national team’s Joe Hart was practicing prior to the tournament, he mentioned that the balls “have been doing anything but staying in my gloves,”. Because the ball is so light, the engineers behind the adidas Jabulani has stepped forth to mention that the ball’s unpredictability is due to a change in altitude. As the ball is extremely lightweight, when used at a higher altitude with lower atmospheric pressure, the change in pressure will have a bigger impact on the ball than on a heavier ball. The adidas Jabulani, without the heft, will be traveling with increased speed, and thus, it is perfectly natural to be less predictable. Hence, it can account for what the soccer players have been deeming as uncharacteristic bounces.

While the aerodynamics of the adidas Jabulani has received much heat from both players and some coaches, the engineers have also mentioned that it is perhaps unreasonable to expect perfect aerodynamics from the ball (though slightly contradicting to what they have promised to deliver with the perfect spherical shape) because if one were to achieve perfection in aerodynamics, one should make the ball look like a plane. The sphere, is not exactly the most aerodynamically conducive shape.

Despite the heat received from players and coaches and fans alike (and perhaps, we will expect the adidas Jabulani to continue take the blame till the end of the 2010 FIFA World Cup), there have been good feedback from certain players. Clintinho has mentioned before the matches that all one has to do is to “pay a little bit more attention” when playing, and Brazil’s Kaka has praised the ball for its sensitivity and contact.

As the engineers mentioned, every ball gets a little getting used to, and it is no different with the adidas Jabulani, especially when it is played on a higher altitude than what some players are familiar with. After the England and USA match, Dr. Andy Hardland from Loughborough University has offered to give team England a quick talk about the ball, but his offer hasn’t been taken up yet. With this in mind, check out some behind the scenes video which went into making the adidas Jabulani, including one shot in the production facility (by AbitareWeb) and another of the scientists giving feedback and showing the tremendous amount of meticulous tests conducted on the ball here.

Scientific Feedback On 2010 FIFA World Cup Official Match Ball “Jabulani”

0 The adidas Jabulani Controversy
10 comments
Toledo SEO
Toledo SEO

It's perfect time to make some plans for the long run and it's time to be happy. I've read this put up and if I may just I wish to suggest you few interesting things or tips. Perhaps you can write subsequent articles relating to this article. I desire to read more things about it!

BoB Flanders
BoB Flanders

Listen, i'm a goalkeeper and this ball is different. Casey keller a pro in the game for almost 20 years said the ball, is not helpful... it's not predictable. Will Hesmer The Columbus Crew starter for the last 4 years said the same thing. Theses are the best of the best. Coming from players outside the world cup i think is important info. Because the world cup has so much other hysteria around it. a soccerball should remaiin a soccerball. simple. stop messing with it and trying to see what u can turn it into. the material is fine, but making it have 14 or 8 panels is rediculous. so Adidas please keep in mind that The beautiful game should remain the beautiful game. no foward should score a shot that origionally was foing a foot over the cross bar. Thank you.

Loay
Loay

It is an incredible ball - however, the one issue is when midfielders pass the ball on the wings for the forwards to run and get it, the bounce is extra fast which pushes for passes that are nor "run to the ball type" which reduces the excitement of the game, waste time, and reduce cross balls risk - so if they can reduce or eliminate such axcelerated bounce, the ball should be amazing - How? I have absolutely no clue - but I know that this controversy will result in one thing "more balls sold"

JF
JF

I am actually going to buy this ball to see what all of this is about and I may publish another comment in a month or so telling you how i thought it was as a striker of Boston United Football Club

Nene33
Nene33

Lol, they been complaining about the ball since forever. Funny thing is, give 'em an old ball, they'll complain about that too. The weird thing is, that they keep talking about the ball making weird movements, but when you see the super-slo-mo, it's straight as an arrow, and the effect balls, have a perfect trajectory with the amount of spin they put into the ball. So it is pretty much all psychology, and maybe a lack of ball skills for some. And for everybody who's wondering, the goal per game avg. is the same as in 2006. 2.3

tam
tam

Players will always have problems with the ball. You either adjust your game to it or you are home before the postcards. End of discussion.

nevil
nevil

FIFA already working on ‘even better’ ball for 2014 World Cup Following the unrivaled success of the Jabulani ball at this year’s World Cup, FIFA’s engineers are already at work on a new design for the next competition. Rumours coming out of FIFA’s development laboratory suggest the world football organization is so happy with the low scoring during the 2010 Cup that they plan to have players use an even less familiar design in four years time. “We’ve managed to get scoring down to less than a goal a game this year, which is quite a success story” said a FIFA technician who asked to remain anonymous. “The complaints about the Jubulani are just silly. Why would we bring all the best players in world together and let them use a ball they are used to? That would be madness.” The Associated Press was allowed to see a top-secret sketch smuggled out of the FIFA laboratory showing a 2014 ball that breaks with the long-standing football tradition of using a sphere and instead uses a square design. The square ball’s code name during development: the Cubalani. It’s not clear how players will adapt to kicking a cube. The source said players in 2014 will get about 10 minutes to familiarize themselves with the Cubalani before the matches begin. “We don’t want anyone to figure out how to kick it properly or they might be able to score,” he said. The source added that FIFA is renowned for its responsive to suggestions and will take into account one of the complaints about the Jabulani – that shooters are unable to keep it under the crossbar. “We think this high-flying issue will be put to rest at the next World Cup,” the source said. “In 2014, the Cubalani should remain lower because we will make this breakthrough cubic ball out of solid lead.” Even though the Cubalani has not been officially released, FIFA has already received an endorsement and seal of approval from the International Association of Insomniacs.

Kimi
Kimi

This ball does weird movements and bounces, you can see it when the players hit it, it goes upwards so much more easily. Why do you think there has been so much criticism, not only the golies don't like it, but many players don't like it either(93% according to Marca, the most read spanish sports newspaper). And the article says Kaka is ok with it, not surprising since he has a contract with adidas. Ask the Nike and Puma ones, see what they tell you. It is so sad that the WC has such a shitty ball...

Val
Val

Very nice article....I think after a match and all the training those guys do daily they should get used to it FAST..they are professionals...give me a break stop blaming the ball for not scoring :)

Tom
Tom

Good article. I think all this controversy about the Jabulani ball is a little silly. It's not the first time Adidas has provided a seamless ball on the world stage. Look at the Teamgeist ball used in 2006. That was seamless, and had a very slick, untextured surface. 'Keepers whined about that one, too. I owned an official Teamgeist ball, and everyone in my weekend leagues loved it. I agree with Dempsey: if the ball is sensitive, or light, than adjust your play to suit it. They're not going to change the official ball at this stage, so the players will have to learn to cope. Either that, or they may find themselves on an early flight home.