Manufacturers put quite a bit of technological know-how into creating soccer balls. But no matter how perfect the sphere that they create, you can be sure there will be critics. We call these critics "goalkeepers." Some players at the UEFA Euro 2008 soccer tournament are debating the merits of the ball supplied by Adidas, with material from Bayer MaterialScience AG. This story, from Germany's Der Spiegel magazine Web site, notes that Czech goalkeeper Petr Cech called the new ball "unpredictable"; German keeper Jens Lehmann complained that it "wobbles," and German goalkeeper trainer Andreas Köpke said "Basically no one is 100 percent satisfied with the ball." The Spiegel story notes that the ball's designer, Hans-Peter Nürnberg from Adidas, is used to goalkeepers' complaints. The story offers details on the aerodynamics of spinning vs. nonspinning balls, as well as some insight into the equipment wars currently played out between field players and goalkeepers. Fun stuff, and amazing considering the number of kids around the world who play football in their bare feet, with balls made of old plastic bags tied and taped together. Speaking of plastic, the "Europass gloria" ball being used at the tournament is plastic, too. It's polyurethane -- not leather -- and its panels are bonded, not sewn together. The surface of the ball has some unusual goose bump-like nubs that Adidas says "improves power transmission, creates greater swerve and increases accuracy on the pitch, in all conceivable weather conditions." Wait a minute. "Creates greater swerve"? Maybe those crazy goalkeepers have a point! For more information about the Europass ball, check out the material-related details from Bayer MaterialScience. And thanks to all involved in the project for finally giving me an opportunity to do a blog item on one of my favorite topics, soccer!
The art and science of making soccer balls
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