Adidas Changes No Reason For Jabulani
As you may have heard by now, FIFA is again introducing a new ball for the World Cup, this time ironically named "Jabulani," an isiZulu word meaning "celebrate." There has been, not surprisingly, little celebration regarding this ball, but there has certainly been a very mixed response from all sides.
First came an Associated Press piece full of heavy criticisms, from references to the ball as "a disaster," "terrible," "supernatural" and even comparing it to the cheap, off the store shelf products that you can find in Wal-Mart. Pretty biting criticism for such a tiny little ball.
On the other hand, as you can see in the video, most of the US players have a completely opposite opinion. Jozy Altidore and Stuart Holden seem to be perfectly o.k. with it, and even the harshest critic, goalie Tim Howard, has essentially said, "I don't love it, but it's not designed to be liked by goalies, so I'm dealing with it."
Granted, there's still the matter of rookie US goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann calling it "horses---", but US coach Bob Bradley is so unconcerned about the new ball that he isn't even using it in game action yet, saying that the team will be using their usual Nike ball in their two friendlies this week (despite no obligation to do so).
They won't be using the Jabulani until their last friendly June 5 against Australia, to which Bradley quite simply said "I'm not worried about it."
This has me feeling as though the international players are being a bit melodramatic about everything. Adidas appears to agree with that idea, as they released a statement of surprise at all the backlash that is flying about.
Company spokesman Thomas Van Schalk makes the fair point that this is not some fly-by-night company, and that they did plenty of testing prior to this release to make sure they had created a quality product.
The ball has been used in several leagues with compliments, not complaints, and the US team certainly seems ambivalent at worst (save the smart-mouthed Hahnemann), so I'm going to call this a bunch of hot air. At the very worst, every single player on the pitch at the World Cup will be having the same problems, which levels the playing field as far as I'm concerned.
In other words, "kuphatha" (that's 'deal with it').