Less than two weeks before the World Cup begins, several players are complaining about Adidas’s new ball.
Complaining is becoming a bit of a tradition as Adidas introduces a new ball before each World Cup. It promised that Jabulani (meaning “to celebrate” in isiZulu) would bring “radically new” technology. The most notable features are small dimples designed to make the ball fly true. Instead, players are complaining that the ball suddenly shifts direction. I find all of this hard to believe.
Players are whining because that’s what players do. In the NBA, players complained about a new ball a few years ago so much that the old ball was re-introduced mid-season. On the one hand, I understand this. Players like to be comfortable and most people who play sports have their own little rituals to get into their comfort zone. Messing with a vital piece of equipment can throw players off. But they’ll adapt. They always do.
Neither FIFA nor Adidas have released a comment. I don’t think they ever will.
UPDATE, 1 JUNE 2010: Italian keeper Gianluigi Buffon said today that “usually you get used to it, but in this case every touch comes with the unknown. The trajectory is really unpredictable.” Midfielder Andrea Pirlo’s passes, he said, usually missed by 10cm if they missed at all, but with the new ball, “he risks missing by three metres.”
Seems like hyperbole to me.