Saturday 24 March 2018

Ball for Brazil gets positive feedback all round

ONCE the World Cup draw is over, the plastic capsules containing the teams will be forgotten and only one ball will matter – the Brazuca, the official ball for the finals.

The new ball is the most intensely tested football of all time, having been worked on for the last two and a half years, and used by more than 600 players across 10 countries.

Following round after round of field and lab tests, it was secretly used in an international game to test its suitability, as everything possible was done to avoid the problems that afflicted the Jabulani ball at the 2010 World Cup.

A disguised version of the Brazuca was used for the friendly between Sweden and Argentina in February and then for the U-20 World Cup in Turkey last June and July, and the feedback from the players was positive.

All of adidas' biggest names have tried and endorsed it. Lionel Messi, Steven Gerrard and Robin van Persie went to the company's headquarters to do so, but adidas have made clear that of the 280 player interviews they have conducted, 30pc were with players contracted elsewhere.

There is some hope that this ball will not go the same way as the Jabulani, which was widely criticised, especially by goalkeepers, by the end of the last World Cup. Iker Casillas described it as "appalling" while Gianluigi Buffon said it was "very sad" that the World Cup was played "with such a horrible ball."

This time Casillas and Spain compatriot Pepe Reina have been involved in testing and helping to ensure the ball meets the criteria of fairness, consistency and reliability.

The new ball is closer to the popular Champions League ball and the Tango used at Euro 2012 rather than the Jabulani.

The main difference is that the Brazuca is made up of six panels, rather than the Jabulani's eight, as well as undergoing fine tuning of the ball's material. Underneath, it has the butyl bladder and PU-based foam that has been used before. At 437 grams it is a gram lighter than Jabulani – but two grams heavier than the 2006 Teamgeist ball, at the higher end of what FIFA guidelines stipulate.

Irish Independent

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