Back in the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Adidas introduced the infamous Jabulani ball which will go down as one of the most controversial balls in the history of soccer. Since 1970, Adidas has been entrusted with the job of designing the official match balls for the World Cups. The Adidas Telstar became the first ever official match ball, which was used in the 1970 FIFA World Cup in Mexico.
Throughout the years, the soccer balls built by Adidas have undergone various changes. In 2006, Adidas made a shift from the traditional method of having 32 panels on a soccer ball. The 2006 World Cup official match ball, Teamgeist, had only 14 panels. This was continued in the Jabulani as well, which contained only 8 panels. This less number of panels resulted in a huge increase in the speed of the ball.
Why was the Jabulani ball hated?
When the Jabulani was launched, it got immense hate and criticism from several top players. Brazilian forward Robinho said, “For sure the guy who designed this ball never played football. But there is nothing we can do; we have to play with it.”
Meanwhile, Spanish goalkeeper Iker Casillas also commented, “It is very sad that a competition so important as the world championship will be played with such a horrible ball.”
The only player who mastered the flight of the Jabulani was the Uruguayan star Diego Forlan. Forlan had reportedly spent 3 months practicing with the ball before the start of the 2010 World Cup. However, the reason so many soccer stars were criticizing the Jabulani was because of the erratic nature of the ball. The Jabulani’s movement was extremely hard to decipher, with players being unable to control the ball.
Sebastian Abreu: 🗣️ “3 months before the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, Diego Forlan asked Adidas to send him a Jabulani ball. At the Atlético Madrid he stayed after the training, practicing moves with ball in motion and free-kicks.” He went on to score the highest number of… pic.twitter.com/DoFrehS4lW
— Frank Khalid OBE (@FrankKhalidUK) June 19, 2023
This abnormal movement of the ball was caused by the new design of the ball. Moreover, the low density of the stadiums in South Africa affected the movement of the ball. Former Liverpool midfielder Craig Johnston, who had also designed the Adidas Predator, had some harsh words for the designers of the Jabulani in an open letter to FIFA.
Johnston said, “Whoever is responsible for this should be taken out and shot for crimes against football. By my calculations, we have been denied at least 10 goals…because of the erratic and unstable flight of the Jabulani football.” He also stated that Frank Lampard’s controversially disallowed goal against Germany would have been allowed had the Jabulani not been in use.
Where to buy the Jabulani ball and how much does it cost?
Soccer fans, if they want, can still go and buy a Jabulani ball for themselves. However, they won’t get it on the official Adidas website. The reason was that Jabulani’s production was stopped because of the intense criticism it received.
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Although fans can still buy a Jabulani ball on sites like Amazon and eBay. However, there are high chances that they won’t be able to get their hands on the official match ball. Moreover, there is a discrepancy regarding the current price of the Jabulani. On Amazon, the price of the Jabulani ball ranges from around $40 to $50, depending on the seller.
Jabulani vs. Jo’bulani: what’s the difference?
The Jabulani is the name of the official match ball for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The word “Jabulani” is derived from the isiZulu word which means “to celebrate.” Meanwhile, Jo’bulani refers to the name of the ball used in the final of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
The Jo’bulani is a special gold-colored version of the Jabulani. The name also pays tribute to the host city of the final, Johannesburg, which is commonly known as Jo’burg.
The tradition of using a different ball in the final of the FIFA World Cup has been a common sight for some time now. It was used for the first time in 2006 when Adidas unveiled the ‘Teamgeist Berlin’ for the 2006 World Cup final. In 2014, the ‘Brazuca Final Rio’ was used as the special ball in the final. Similarly, in 2018, the ‘Telstar Mechta’ was used in the final while in 2022, ‘Al-Hilm’ was the special ball used in the semifinals and the final.