Will the Brazuca imitate the erratic Jubulani, or will it cut its own path?
The World Cup kicks off in three weeks on the tropical shores of Brazil. Adidas were tasked with creating their twelfth World Cup ball, the Brazuca, under pressure to ensure it lacks similarity to its predecessor: South Africa 2010’s Jubulani.
The Jubulani was the pariah of modern footballs. Under great pressure to ensure the professionals exhibit flawless skill, perhaps even enhanced by its aptitude, the Jubulani swerved way off target.
You may wonder what the problem was - a ball’s a ball, right? Wrong, supposedly.
Due to some details regarding grooves and airflow, a ball can obtain a mind of its own if incorrectly designed. The Jubulani was testament to this, at times becoming an automated, almost sentient, orb unable to follow the direction of its masters.
Myriad world stars openly criticised the unpredictable sphere, with Brazilian striker Robinho reportedly stating, "For sure the guy who designed this ball never played football.” And Italian keeper Gianluigi Buffon reportedly declaring, "The new model is absolutely inadequate and I think it's shameful playing such an important competition with a ball like this."
Ideally, a football goes unnoticed. Perhaps a vibrant colour or stylish design stands out, but generally you’d expect to be talking about the quality of football being played, not the quality of the football being played with.
That’s where Adidas’ Brazuca comes in. Its makers say it has longer and deeper seams to make it less volatile in the air which, they say, means it will travel further and more accurately during games.
News to everyone’s ears, I’m sure.
Let’s hope that upon its inauguration in Sao Paolo on June 12th, the Brazuca lives up to its billing and doesn’t steal the show.