Jabulani ball gets a right kicking from disgruntled players

Johannesburg: Forget the noise of the
vuvuzela distracting the players, it`s more the Jabulani
football that is proving the bane of the 2010 World Cup
participants so far.

Chief among the Adidas FIFA-approved football`s
detractors unsurprisingly are goalkeepers - though England`s
Robert Green cannot put it down to his howler in the 1-1 draw
with the United States.

"Rotten" opined Spain`s Iker Casillas, "unpredictable"
commented Italy`s World Cup winning `keeper Gianluigi Buffon,
who went on to say that it was `a disgrace that such a rotten
ball was being used in such a great tournament`.

Two of their South American brethren were evidently
thinking of their holidays after the tournament as Brazil`s
Julio Cesar remarked it was of the sort of quality you buy in
a supermarket while Chile`s Claudio Bravo thought it was
better-suited to `beach volleyball`.

The poor old ball doesn`t escape criticism from outfield
players either with Slovenia`s captain Robert Koren saying
after the opening 1-0 victory over Algeria yesterday that it
was hard to control long passes.

He also graciously tried to avert blame for his goal from
the Algerian goalkeeper Chaouchi`s blunder by saying the ball
had played a role in it.

Not surprisingly both Adidas and FIFA have been equally
vociferous in defending the offending item.

"There are strict FIFA guidelines on the ball (weight,
size, bounce depending on what the temperature is)," commented

"Not only does our ball fulfil all these conditions but
in fact they go beyond them. Our ball has been tested and
received the highest level of approval.”

"The ball was launched in December. Since then it has
been used in the United States, Germany, Argentina... without
any negative comments. There is absolutely no reason to change
the ball, it is the best model that we have ever produced,"
they added defiantly.

FIFA`s chief press officer Nicolas Maingot also came to
its defence publicly.

"The ball has been tested and approved, we have received
no complaints since the teams started practicing with it, in
February," he said.

However, an Australian scientist Derek Leinweber, based
at Adelaide University, concluded after a series of computer
tests that the ball goes faster and is more unpredictable than
its predecessors.

"That means the goalkeeper can no longer really
anticipate its trajectory," he said.

However, it is not all doom and gloom from the players as
2008 World footballer of the year Cristiano Ronaldo who
believes that everything will turn out alright.

"We just have to adapt, whether it is good, bad or
indifferent, I am convinced that things will work out alright,
whether it be dribbling, shooting and corners."

Bureau Report