Adidas surprised by criticism of World Cup ball
Adidas hit back Monday at criticism that the World Cup ball is difficult to control and a nightmare for goalkeepers, stressing that it was widely tested and approved long ago.
Company spokesman Thomas van Schaik said he was surprised to hear the criticisms, made by top goalkeepers such as Spain's Iker Casillas and Brazil's Julio Cesar, because the Jabulani balls had been used for months without any complaints.
"The ball has been used for months," he told The Associated Press. "We started using it in December in a wide variety of leagues. All the response we have had has been positive.
"On top of that, we have distributed it to all the finalists so that they have been able to get used to the ball. Apparently they have not taken advantage of that if we are only hearing this criticism now. I am quite surprised in these circumstances."
Brazil has been in South Africa since Thursday and Julio Cesar described the World Cup balls as "terrible," comparing them with cheap ones bought in a supermarket. Casillas said the balls were "in an appalling condition."
Outfield players have been critical too. Brazil striker Luis Fabiano described the ball as "weird" and Italy's Giampaolo Pazzini said it was "a disaster."
"It moves so much and makes it difficult to control," the Italian striker said. "You jump up to head a cross and suddenly the ball will move and you miss it."
No complaints from Germans
In contrast, several German players have said they were happy with the new ball, although some of them or their clubs have Adidas sponsorship.
Mario Gomez, who scored with the ball for Bayern Munich, said he found it "a little harder."
"It hurts a little, but if you hit it right, it flies," he said.
Asked why the ball behaved differently at altitude, where many of the games will be played in South Africa, Van Schaik said that applied to all balls.
"It does what every ball does [at altitude] and that really doesn't have anything to do with it," he said. "The different air pressure at altitude does make the ball move faster. We did have extensive testing with regard to altitude."
Van Schaik said there was traditionally a criticism of the balls ahead of World Cups but that tended to disappear by the end of the competition.
"If you look back in history there have always been criticisms about the ball before the World Cup but not so much afterwards after you've seen great goals or great saves," he said.
"The ball is much more accurate, making the best players in the world even better. If they kick the ball they want it to go where they are aiming for and even the goalkeepers get a better idea of where the ball is going."