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Posted by Michael Da Silva on 06/13/2010

The ball has not been popular. © Getty Images

Before every World Cup, FIFA launch a lighter, less predictable and, in their words, "rounder" ball. And at every World Cup, players complain that they're too light, too unpredictable and, erm, too round.

England's Michael Carrick compared it to a beach ball, Denmark's Daniel Agger said it makes players look like drunken sailors and Brazil's Julio Cesar claimed it's like a ball you would buy from a supermarket.

This year’s event has so far seen the lowest number of goals at this stage of a World Cup ever, but there has still been time for two horrendous howlers from goalkeepers. It can be said with relative authority that Algeria coach Rabah Saadane is not a fan of the Jabulani ball following the blunder his keeper, Faouzi Chaouchi, made in Sunday's 1-0 defeat to Slovenia.

"Everyone saw what happened with the ball, and what happened yesterday with England's goalkeeper,'' Saadane said."You have to adjust to the flight of the ball.''

Following that error, Algeria's Chaouchi joined England's Rob Green as the focus of the World Cup's first talking point: What's the problem with the Jabulani?

The first point about the ball is that it is not actually any lighter than the Teamgeist (the official ball of the 2006 World Cup), but its revised aerodynamics means that it can fly through the air 5% faster – and even more at altitude. So how much influence does the new ball have during the course of games? Frank Lampard doesn't have a problem with it.

"This ball is quite true in its flight when you hit it cleanly, which is what you want," he has said. "There is obviously a lot of human error in football, on certain days you catch the ball wrong [and] as players we look to criticise... If players are moaning about the size or the weight I think that is probably just football players."

That will come as little comfort to Rob Green, who faces a battle to keep his place in Fabio Capello's team after his error, which he didn't dare blame on the ball. Instead, Green was led to the abattoir by the Sunday morning newspapers on both sides of the Atlantic. "HAH" was the headline on New York's Daily News and "Hand of Clod" on the front cover of Britain's Sunday Mirror.

Thomas Schaikvan, head of public relations for the company behind the Jabulani, Adidas, told PA: "We are happy with the ball's performance and we don't think it had anything to do with the goal England conceded. On the contrary, if you look at the games so far, some goalkeepers have been the stars of the tournament.

"The Nigeria goalkeeper (Vincent Enyeama) and (United States goalkeeper) Tim Howard won the man of the match award in their games, and the South Africa goalkeeper (Itumeleng Khune) was also excellent against Mexico.

With Rob Green clearly at fault for USA's equaliser against England on Saturday, you can't say Schaikvan doesn't have a point. Blunders are an occupational hazard for goalkeepers and from Peter Bonetti to David Seaman, they've always happened. So why do players persist to blame the ball?

Comments

Posted by fred17862 on 07/27/2010

I still think the ball is lousy. Mexico actually had their keepers practicing with an American football (yeah the oval thing). And Brad Freidel also said the ball was unpredictable-too much so. Other than the two bad goalie "blunders" there were a number of times the keeper came out and did NOT make contact with the ball. I can't believe all those WC keepers were rank amatuers! It's the ball!

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