You'd think sporting goods designers would have created the perfect soccer ball by now -- after all, it's just sphere. But every few years they come out with a new version -- always better than the last, yet never popular with goalkeepers. The newest ball, the Jabulani, was unveiled on Dec. 4 for the 2010 World Cup. (If you're wondering, Jabulani means "to celebrate" in the Bantu's isiZulu language). What's new about this ball? The design itself. Regular balls are made with 32 hexagonal panels. The Teamgeist ball that Adidas created for the 2006 World Cup had only 14 panels. But the Jabilani ball has only 8 panels. As before, the panels are made of EVA and thermoplastic polyurethane -- not leather -- and they're thermally bonded -- not sewn together. Adidas says this new ball is "perfectly round and even more accurate than ever before." A news release from Adidas notes that "Following the first tests, players all over the world are enthusiastic and are promising many goals with the new ball." Among others, it quotes German star Michael Ballack: "Fantastic, the ball does exactly what I want it to." Perhaps that's the problem for goalkeepers -- they don't necessarily want a ball that does exactly what midfielders want! And they certainly don't want a ball that promises "many goals." South African keeper Hans Vonk has already expressed his dislike of the Jabulani, telling Dutch magazine Voetbal International "It is claimed the ball holds its line exactly, but in reality it veers off in all directions. The ball is lighter and there seems to be more plastic used than previously." "It is a tragedy for goalkeepers." Blog readers may recall that it's not unusual for keepers to complain about new soccer ball designs. Perhaps they'd prefer to just play without a ball altogether!
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