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There are problems with Jabulani ball but South Africa is not blame

There are problems with Jabulani ball but South Africa is not blame

The official match ball of the ongoing World Cup Jabulani has come under serious criticising since the first week of tournament by players and coaches of some participating countries. (Photo: the Jabulani ball.  Photo credit Mohamed Fajah Barrie)

Let me just highlight few of the unpleasant comments made about the Jabulani ball that are in line with all the criticisms. First it was England Coach Fabio Capello who made negative comments about Jabulani describing it as horrible and the worst ball he’s ever seen after they failed to secure a victory against USA in their opening match.

Next was the Super Eagles Swedish Coach Lars Lagerback who said after their 1-0 defeat to Argentina in their opening match that his players sometimes had problems kicking Jabulani the direction they wanted it and his goalkeeper too sometime could not able to catch the ball because it swings. His claim was supported by the Super Eagles central defender Danny Shittu.

When I interviewed the Denmark-Arsenal striker Nikolas Bentner after their victory over Cameroon in Pretoria in the first round, he said some times the ball easily flies up when you aim at taking a low shot.

Before their quarter-final clash with Holland in Port Elizabeth last Friday, the ex-Brazilian coach Dunga said the Jabulani was going to be problem for the two teams because they were playing in a windy stadium not suitable for the ball as it swings and sometime easily flies when you kick it.

The other day former England international Kelvin Keegan too made some nasty comments on television about Jabulani.

I’ve investigated about the Jabulani and it’s true that it has problems. It swings when you kick it particularly when you take a short and this makes it difficult for goalkeepers to catch it. It flies when you don’t intend it to be.

This is why many players in the World Cup don’t like Jabulani and the goalkeepers hate it the most.

What baffles me is that the World’s football governing body, FIFA tested the Jabulani and certified it for use in this World Cup. It was manufactured by the Sportswear and equipment company addidas and was tested without a name at the FIFA World Youth Championship in Nigeria last year won by Ghana.

After the tournament the competition department at FIFA where you have people like Pele, Zico, Kalusha and other famous past footballers gave the ball a 100% approval for the use in this World Cup as the official match ball. As a result it was certified, approved by FIFA executive committee and South Africa gave the ball a name Jabulani.

The truth is that the host South Africa does not have any fault in this issue but the blame should entirely rest on the shoulders of FIFA and they should take full responsibility of it because they tested Jabulani and approved it. I believe this is why the FIFA officers have continue to keep silent and give deaf ears on those criticising the ball.

This makes me to ask questions about their testing methods. Is kicking the ball in the pitch enough to test the quality of a ball? I think FIFA should try and adopt an additional method for the testing of balls preferable introducing sophisticated testing.

For the manufacturer addidas, I tried fruitlessly to get their representatives at the World Cup for an interview on the Jabulani ball. I guess they would put up a defence that they gave the ball to FIFA for a test as par their procedures and FIFA tested it and certified it for use.

I know addidas must have tested the ball in their own way and certified it for test by FIFA. But I strongly believe that they too should make sure that the ball is in the best shape of form before releasing it out.

Credit: Sports Writers Association of Sierra Leone (SWASAL). Partial sponsors: Mercury International

By Mohamed Fajah Barrie at the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa

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