Fifa to look at problem ball after tournament

Goalkeepers have led the criticism, claiming that it has been difficult to control in matches and the governing body says it will follow up on the complaints later.

Uruguay's goalkeeper Fernando Muslera holds onto the Jabulaini World Cup ball during yesterday's second round match with South Korea.
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JOHANNESBURG // Fifa have finally acknowledged that there may be something wrong with the Jabulani World Cup ball, but will not act on the problem until after the tournament. Many players have likened the Jabulani to a "supermarket ball", saying it is unpredictable and cuts through the air too easily.

"We're not deaf," Jerome Valcke. the Fifa secretary general, said yesterday at a news conference. "Fifa is not unreceptive about what has been said about the ball." Valcke said that Fifa will discuss the matter with coaches and teams after the World Cup, then meet with Adidas, the manufacturer. "There are rules for size and weight ? But the ball has to be perfect," Valcke said. Goalkeepers have complained about the ball at every recent World Cup, although this time forwards and even coaches have added their laments.

Dunga, the Brazil manager, got into a spat with Valcke over the Jabulani before the tournament, challenging the Fifa executive to come out onto the pitch and attempt to control it. Goalkeepers such as Spain's Iker Casillas and Italy's Gianluigi Buffon have criticised it, too, along with many outfield players. The Jabulani could create even more problems in the knockout stages which started yesterday, since games could be decided by penalty shootouts.

"The balls have changed over the last couple of years, they have become a lot faster and in addition to that in Johannesburg we are playing at an altitude of 1,700 meters, which makes the ball even faster," Oliver Kahn, the former Germany goalkeeper, said. "Thus, the goalkeepers work even harder, but I don't think that we can take the ball or the altitude as excuses." Adidas has made the World Cup ball since 1970, with a contract until 2014.

The German company has defended the Jabulani, saying it does not know what the fuss is about because all the qualified teams were given the ball before the tournament to test it. "There's a lot of talk about stadiums, infrastructure and TV and that's nice and all, but first we've got to worry about balls, spikes and jerseys," Buffon said. "I don't see why we can't just go back to the old black-and-white checkered version we all played with as kids."

As for the aesthetics, Valcke said that the ball had been criticised in the past as too colourful, and that's why this version is whiter. * AP