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Do We Really Need A New Football?

superball Do We Really Need A New Football?

Football’s magnificence lies in it simplicity. The rules, the tactics, the culture have adopted their own complexities over the years, but boots, nets, linesmen, banners and songs all become luxuries when we acknowledge the lovers of the game would play in the mud in bare feet if they had to. Pick two kids anywhere on the planet, give ‘em a football and kick ‘em out of the house for a few hours and those tykes’ll make a game of it. Rocks and sticks become goal posts. Any patch of open space makes a pitch and a round ball is all you need. That’s why it’s the world’s best loved sport.

So it baffles me when a football governing body introduces a “new ball” as UEFA did for the champions league final. Frivolous new technology in a sport of beautiful simplicity. Okay, UEFA: what have we got here?

The Adidas Finale Rome utilizes PSC-Texture™ which entails a series of bumps on the surface of the ball which is supposed to create a better grip for the players’ boots, thus making it easier to play with in inclement weather conditions.

Right.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not opposed to progress. I just hate when it interferes with the purity of the game.

If you can make goal-line technology work: fine. Put a sensor in the ball so we know when it crosses the line, etc.. If the change doesn’t affect the movement of the ball, it’s no problem. If it helps us clarify dubious goals and such without stopping the match for video replay, that’s a reasonable technological innovation. But if the weight of the sensor, say, somehow stunts the speed of the ball as it moves across the pitch or if it drastically alters its trajectory from a free-kick or corner, then I have a problem with it.

Watching the players try and get their feet around the Rome Finale ball was painful at times. The movement from freekicks and corners was markedly different, and the ball’s track across the pitch seemed stuttered and inconsistent. The technology interfered with play. Anyone could see it.

From kick-off, the difference was blatant . Barca gave up a quick free throw in dangerous territory because what should have been a simple pass from Valdes missed its man and went out to touch. Almost the same thing happened to United after Eto’o scored. A routine pass to van der Sar went well wide and Barca earned a corner kick.

As with the ball used in the 2006 World Cup, change has altered the path of the ball and forces the players to change how they play. In 2006, fewer seams altered the spin of the lighter ‘Teamgiest‘ ball and gave it an unpredictable trajectory. Keepers had their hands full (or not) keeping tabs on where the ball was going.

At least FIFA used the Teamgeist for the entire World Cup, though. UEFA waited until the Champions League final to introduce the Finale Rome. Yes, the name of the ball presaged that move. But perhaps we could have been using an Adidas Groupstage Rome with the same technology at the start of the competition so the players could get used to it.

While any of the United and Barca players who represented their country in last summer’s Euro have already been exposed to PSC-Texture™ in the form of the ‘EUROPASS‘ ball, the thing still seemed an alien concept on the day as players were clearly not used to the ball’s movement.

But the issue ultimately goes back to the concept of simplicity.

We don’t need this ball.

Playing in bad weather is as important a tradition for football as anything. And its the same soaked pitch for both sides. Until Ronaldo or Messi develops webbed feet and gills, it’s not as if one has advantage over the other. The ball’s goosebumps, dimples, pimples, whatever they are: not needed. “They are scientifically proved to allow better control in all weather conditions.” Yeah? Well, they invoked poor control on a sunny day at Wembley.

It didn’t change the outcome, as both sides had to struggle with the thing equally. But it forced them to change how they played and adjust to a new ball with little preparation.

Embrace simplicity, UEFA. The ball is round. You kick it. You can even do this without a high-tech nuclear powered boot designed by NASA. I promise.

We don’t need more whistles and bells on our football. I say, don’t &%#!@ with perfection™.

This entry was posted in General, Leagues: EPL and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Do We Really Need A New Football?

  1. mm says:

    I agree; especially with if you introduce a new ball–why did they do it in one of the most important games of the year?

  2. Eric Cantona says:

    That explains why Ferdinand couldn’t jump high enough to get to the ball, it obviously flew in a different trajectory so the short bloke behind him could head it in!

  3. Dave says:

    Also, please get these kids off of my lawn.

  4. Soccerpie says:

    I am voting for some challenge system like we have in NFl or tennis. I think that it will be huge step forward for football.

  5. Ethan Armstrong says:

    Soccerpie,

    Ooh, if you mean stopping the match for review, I must respectfully dissent. I love the tactics and action of the NFL. But I hate the fact that it takes some four hours to watch a game. If anything the NFL should aspire to move closer to its rugby cousin and embrace the 80 minute match, but I know the advertisers who thrive on all the chances for commercial breaks would never go for it.

    As for association football, I would hate to see anything that adds stoppages to our beautiful, concise game. I would push for goal-line technology (if it’s done right) and post-match reactions to disciplinary decisions (or disciplinary inaction), etc, before we ever think about introducing anything that stops play.

  6. ASC says:

    As a matter of fact they did not introduce this new technology for the Final in Rome, the same ball was used throughout the group and knockout stages only different colors and slightly different styles. All of Adidas’ new match balls have this technology. They get the idea from golf, using outer dimples instead of inner ones for precisely as you said, to have the players get a better feel for the ball.

  7. Ethan Armstrong says:

    ASC,

    Do you have any sources for this?

    The match ball from the final definitely seemed to move differently than any other CL match I saw this season. Perhaps the PSC-texture wasn’t the determining factor (it was the seams and lightness in 2006 that changed the movement of the ball).

    Whether it was the texture or not, the ball acted differently. The ball should be a standard for any given competition. The same design used throughout.

  8. Matilda says:

    It was one of the silliest thing I’ve ever seen in football to introduce a ball the players had very limited, if any, experience with in the final of one of the most important club competitions. It does rather beg the question how much technology does one actually need in an inflated sphere?

  9. Andy Thompson says:

    “At the Group Stage Draw for the UEFA Champions League™ in Monaco today, adidas and UEFA unveiled the adidas “FINALE 8”, the official match ball of the competition. Like the “EUROPASS”, the ball which was used for UEFA EURO 2008™, the ball’s new surface structure allows players to control and direct it perfectly in all weather conditions. The revolutionary PSC-Texture™, which gives the ball goose bumps, consists of a sophisticated and extremely fine structure on the ball’s outer skin that guarantees optimum grip between ball and boot.”

    http://www.press.adidas.com/desktopdefault.aspx/tabid-11/16_read-9616/

    Pretty sure the same ball (different colours) were used in the CL final in 2008 .

    http://www.press.adidas.com/desktopdefault.aspx/tabid-11/16_read-8826/

  10. Ethan Armstrong says:

    Thanks for the links and the info, Andy.

    I’ve looked for a source describing any difference between the “Finale 8″ and the “Rome Finale”, but have yet to find anything. They both have the PSC-Texture, but I was wondering if there was any other difference between them that might have influenced the movement of the ball in Rome. They look to have the same structure.

    The commentators during the match sparked my idea for the article when they spoke of the ball being different and the players struggling with it. My perception of the ball’s movement corroborated with these sentiments.

    Even if it was essentially the same ball throughout the competition, I stand by my belief that such things as PSC-Texture are unnecessary additions to our simple, beautiful game.

    But I’m sure there will be another ball to come out in the near future with another “breakthrough” technology so that we are all tempted to go to the store and buy it.

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