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U.S. keeper: World Cup ball 'a nightmare'

(From Liz Clarke)

In the run-up to the 2010 World Cup, it's not politics that's causing the greatest consternation. It's the ball.

The full range of opinion was on display when three principals of the U.S. team -- Coach Bob Bradley, midfielder Clint Dempsey and goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann -- were asked about its nuances Thursday.

Hahnemann called it "a nightmare" for goalkeepers because of its wild unpredictability and predicted the number of goals would plunge because strikers can't judge its behavior.

"This ball, you don't know what's going to happen with it," said Hahnemann. "Sometimes you bend it, it bends. Sometimes you hit backspin, it'll just drop."

Bradley conceded it was tricky, owing to technological advances that make it more lively, compounded by the thin air at Johannesburg's roughly mile-high altitude.

Countered Hahnemann: "Technology is not everything. Scientists came up with the atom bomb. Doesn't mean we should have invented it."


Dempsey gave it a qualified thumbs-up, predicting plenty of goals.

"I like the ball," Dempsey said. "If you play it just right, you don't even have to hit it as hard as you can. That causes problems for the goalies. The only thing: You've got to pay more attention to detail when you pass the ball. If you get it just a little bit wrong--other balls have a lot of 'give' to them--[with this ball], if you hit it wrong, you can end up looking silly."

It's hardly the first time World Cup players have griped about FIFA's choice of soccer ball. It was a topic U.S. Coach Bruce Arena refused to indulge on the eve of the 2002 World Cup.

Asked his thoughts at the time, Arena rolled his eyes and deadpanned: "It's a ball. Last time I checked, it was still round. If they make it square, I'll start to worry about it."

By Liz Clarke  |  June 3, 2010; 8:20 AM ET
Categories:  2010 World Cup , FIFA , U.S. men's national team  | Tags: Bob Bradley, Clint Dempsey, Marcus Hahnemann, World Cup, ball  
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Next: World Cup news & notes


Everybody jumping in on a ton of coverage. I'm lovin it. Octa dias!

Posted by: JacobfromAtlanta-ish | June 3, 2010 8:42 AM | Report abuse

Everybody jumping in on a ton of coverage. I'm lovin it. Octa dias!

Posted by: JacobfromAtlanta-ish | June 3, 2010 8:46 AM | Report abuse

It's a ball. Why does anyone need to @#$ with it?

Oh, that's right, chumps will buy the new one just because it's the World Cup ball and is the last name of Heywood...

Posted by: Reignking | June 3, 2010 8:51 AM | Report abuse

It's the same thing every year. New ball comes out, and players complain for a month leading up to the tournament. But you know what? The referee puts the ball down, the whistle blows, and the players play the game. Goals are scored. Saves are made.

Back in high school, we often utilized a slogan that said "Be an athlete. Adjust." Hey footballers, shut up about the ball and play the game.

Posted by: DCU_Rick | June 3, 2010 9:01 AM | Report abuse

Every team is playing with the same ball, right?

Don't get me started on the atom bomb quote, which, by the way, came from a guy who likes to go to the shooting range and shoot off automatic weapons like Rambo.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | June 3, 2010 9:02 AM | Report abuse

DCU_Rick: Bravo! Gooooooooaaallllllll!

Posted by: hofbrauhausde | June 3, 2010 9:03 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: Kev29 | June 3, 2010 9:03 AM | Report abuse

Sorry, that's every FOUR years. I'll now go get coffee.

Posted by: DCU_Rick | June 3, 2010 9:04 AM | Report abuse

All this controversy ever does is help Adidas sell soccer balls . . but at $150, I won't be getting one!

Posted by: delantero | June 3, 2010 9:04 AM | Report abuse

Hahnemann has the quote of the World Cup build up thus far. Maradonna - your move.

Posted by: M__N | June 3, 2010 9:09 AM | Report abuse

I bought a couple of the $13 replicas, and they seem just fine. I see limited curve, very little swerve, and have yet to see a wiggle.

Posted by: JacobfromAtlanta-ish | June 3, 2010 9:17 AM | Report abuse

Maradona already had a great quote about the Argentine opponents needing to "put all their beef on the grill."

Posted by: BKMD | June 3, 2010 9:26 AM | Report abuse

I'm partial to the 32 panel buckminsterfullerene design, because I like to say buckminsterfullerene.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | June 3, 2010 9:29 AM | Report abuse


Thats because you kick like a first grader ;-)

I agree with how bad this ball is. We should bring back the plastic wind-channel balls we played with in junior high. That was HIGH-END technology!

Then again, we also had left over jerseys with laces at the collar. Maybe we should play with the new one...

Posted by: SoccerVA | June 3, 2010 9:29 AM | Report abuse

Regarding Goff's earlier post about the umpire whose bad call prevented Armando Galarraga from earning MLB's 3rd perfect game this season:

I heard a quote yesterday from the assistant referee in the 1986 Argentina-England game. He allegedly said that the match referee blew the "hand of God" call. Every time I've seen the video of that play, I'm just dumbfounded that the AR missed the call, and now he blames the referee.

Even Graham Poll's 3 yellow cards to the same player wasn't that bad. (OK, maybe it was.)

Posted by: Rhio | June 3, 2010 9:32 AM | Report abuse

Of course FIFA insists on incorporating expensive new technology when it comes to World Cup balls, but not when it comes to installing goal-line cameras or some form of video review. "Sanctity of the game" and all. :rolleyes:

Posted by: asfoolasiam | June 3, 2010 9:39 AM | Report abuse

Arena rolls his eyes, AND deadpans? Who knew?!

Intentionally or not, I think I'm going to find myself evaluating and grading every Dempsey pass in the World Cup.

Did someone say "Atom"?!

"The big bang took and shook the world
Shot down the rising sun
The end was begun and it hit everyone
When the chain reaction was done
The big shots tried to hold it back
Fools tried to wish it away
The hopeful depend on a world without end
Whatever the hopeless may say..."

Rush, "Manhattan Project," circa 1985

Posted by: Rand-al-Thor | June 3, 2010 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Morning Joe and Mika are huge soccer fans.

Posted by: OWNTF | June 3, 2010 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Marcus Hahnemann is so metal is hurts

Posted by: VercengetorixII | June 3, 2010 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Some players act like the ball just came out yesterday. They must play in leagues that use Nike balls.

Isn't this essentially the same ball being used in MLS this season, and in German league (?)since 01/2010?

Stop whining.

I received this ball as a Christmas gift. I'm no professional player, but my sense is the ball definitely feels different from the previous generation of Adidas ball. However, it plays quite well. The weight seems great. It's easy to control, but it also flies off your foot ( in a good way) when you shoot or long pass. It is also easy to create friction with your shoes without being too sticky; therefore, it's easy to create swerve.

Posted by: footiefan101 | June 3, 2010 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Marcus may be right, but thankfully someone thought of Spanish Bombs.

Thank you Clash.

Posted by: ComoPark | June 3, 2010 10:19 AM | Report abuse

I bought a couple of the $13 replicas, and they seem just fine. I see limited curve, very little swerve, and have yet to see a wiggle.

Posted by: JacobfromAtlanta-ish

if you step up to the $26 replica, and fully inflate, then you'll see some wiggle. I think I read somewhere that the amount of inflation is quite critical to the performance of the Jabulani, much more than traditional balls.

Posted by: VTUnited | June 3, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse


Where did you get them for $13? I see them for 20 euros and 25-26 USD and haven't bought them yet.

Posted by: Charisma_Man | June 3, 2010 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Watch it wiggle
See it jiggle
Cool and fruity
It's a ball called Jabulani.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | June 3, 2010 10:37 AM | Report abuse

so wait, a goalie is complaining about a ball even though he "predicted the number of goals would plunge"? coming up next, World Cup organizers complain that there will be "too many people" attending this year's tournament.

Posted by: dimesmakedollars | June 3, 2010 10:48 AM | Report abuse

no, no, no, its Happy Fun Ball

Posted by: Section107 | June 3, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

"I see limited curve, very little swerve, and have yet to see a wiggle."

Try another dating site.

Posted by: Bartolo1 | June 3, 2010 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Hahnnemann is a idiot. He should learn some history. The U.S. developed nuclear weapons out of fear that the Nazis might do so (Albert Einstein joined several other scientists warning Pres. Roosevelt about that possibility). The U.S. used it against Japan not only because the Japanese refused to surrender, but also because they were planning to repel a massive invasion using civilians as guerrillas.

Pres. Truman had only two effective choices: execute the planned invasion (which would result in massive American casualties) or use the bombs. As the commander-in-chief, whose task it was to win a war while incurring the fewest amount of military casualties, he made the only morally responsible decision.

Besides, somebody should tell Mr. Hahnemann that the nuclear standoff between the U.S. and the USSR kept the world from plunging into all-out war between two superpowers. Otherwise, his parents might well have been burnt, radioactive cinders.

Then again, for Hahnemann to make such a statement while owning a small arsenal merely shows him to be a poser. Being one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League doesn't mean you're smart in other areas.

Posted by: JosephDHippolito | June 3, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

"Are you ready for that great atomic power?
Will you rise and meet your Savior in the end?
Will you shout or will you cry when the fire rains from on high?
Are you ready for that great atomic power?"

Charlie Louvin, 1953

Top that, goalie-boy.

Posted by: zimbar | June 3, 2010 2:01 PM | Report abuse

A tip of the hat to Zimbar for the Louvin Brothers reference. I saw Charlie play a couple years ago, and even though he's an octagenarian he still has it. Truly an OG.

Posted by: Mastodon_Juan | June 3, 2010 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: JosephDHippolito

What I was going to say, except for the EInstein part, that was a nice touch.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | June 3, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Do not taunt Jabulani.

Posted by: Reignking | June 3, 2010 9:52 PM | Report abuse


I'm not sure Hahnemann's comments were about the US developing the atom bomb, I think he was speaking to the human RACE developing the atom bomb. While it has it's uses by one country when ANOTHER, hostile country also has them, I think his point was it probably would have been better for the world as a whole if someone hadn't thunk up a way to annihilate the planet.

But then again, doesn't he know there are soccer blogs with message boards out there?! How else are we to fill our time than to pick apart every major quote and action by an athlete?

Posted by: daandre3 | June 4, 2010 6:53 AM | Report abuse

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