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Extremely round

The Jabulani was the controversial match ball chosen for the FIFA 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Promoted by manufacturers Adidas as the roundest ball ever, the Jabulani proved to be about as reliable as a Soviet nuclear reactor.

Back in the day (when men were men etc.) there was no design process in creating the centre piece of the beautiful game. Football was played with an inflated pigs bladder, covered in hard leather and stitched together with some old shoe laces. On a wet day, the ball could become so swollen and heavy that headers would result in instant Alzheimer's and even a near-post flick-on from a corner severe concussion.

These days, tournament organizers are presented with thousands of designs, each iteration representing the current state of the art in Far Eastern sweatshop labour.

In order to create a balanced World Cup, where teams like New Zealand could draw with Italy, Adidas chose to make a ball that was extremely difficult to control and that would shift about eerily in mid-flight. While their intention was to create a ball that would encourage shooting from range, the actual effects were:

  • All long passes became hopelessly inaccurate
  • Most long shots flew wildly off target
  • Lots of awful free kicks that looked like Rugby conversion attempts
  • Straight shots at the goalkeeper suddenly switching direction at the last minute; making highly-skilled stoppers look like complete donuts when they appeared to dive out the way of the ball

The Jabulani was thus yet another factor contributing to the disappointment that was the 2010 FIFA World Cup. It is now consigned to history along with plastic pitches as unsuitable for games of football.

Other candidates[]

Below is a list of other candidates that were considered for the match ball in 2010, along with their pros and cons.

Pigs Bladder[]

Pros Cons
  • Cheap
  • Predictable flight
  • Traditional
  • England can use one
  • Not suitable for vegetarians
  • Headers known to cause mental illness and even death

A Futsal[]

Main article: Futsal
Pros Cons
  • Rarely bursts
  • As easy to head as a cannon ball

The remote control ball[]

During the Space Race in the 1960s, clubs in England were briefly allowed to experiment with balls that could be radio controlled from the touchline by managers. Even tame back passes suddenly became extremely risky, as the ball would suddenly speed up to a blistering pace on command from the bench.

Pros Cons
  • Made games more exciting
  • Removed the need for the backpass rule
  • Loathed by goalkeepers
  • Banned after accusations of causing premature baldness in the Charlton brothers

50p Plastic Ball[]

Also known as the 50p floater. At some point in their life, everyone has bought one of these plastic balls from a string bag in a shop on the sea-front while on a trip to Cleethorpes/Blackpool/Brighton/Margate (delete as applicable).

Pros Cons
  • Cheap
  • Easy to head
  • Easy to kick long distances
  • Unpredictable flight path
  • Prone to being burst by stray dogs
  • Prone to blowing off into the Sea, resulting in match abandonment and a trip to the penny pushers