The World Cup is over. But players have still not figured out how to control the notorious Jabulani, the tournament’s official ball. Most long range shots flew wide off the target. Goalkeepers struggled to judge its flight. Perhaps, ‘Jabuloony’ would have been a more accurate name for it.
The interesting thing about the Jabulani is this. Its flaw is flawlessness. Geeks at the Institute of the Science of Movement in Marseille, France, inferred that the ball was too round to travel straight. “The stitches of the Jabulani are internal, so the ball resembles a perfect sphere,” Eric Berton, the institute’s deputy director, has been quoted as saying. “Because of the shape, the time of contact with the foot is reduced. As a consequence, it practically doesn’t spin. The ball travels a little less far, and will have a floating and unpredictable trajectory, whether for a striker or a goalkeeper.” The absence of pronounced stitching also means less air resistance, resulting in a less-controlled flight.
What makes a perfect football then? Experts believe that some of the more traditionally stitched balls used in past World Cups, like the Telstar (Mexico 1970) or Tango Espana (Spain 1982) are much better for football.