The design of Jabulani ball

Jabulani is the name of the official ball for the World Cup 2010 in South Africa. It means “rejoice” in Zulu or “Oh my God!” in the goalkeeper’s language… The reason is that it has caused a lot of troubles to most of the goalies so far, who look helpless to predict the move of the ball in long and hard shots.

Watching at youtube videos it seems Adidas has put great effort on making the best ball ever, innovating on the design of the ball which consists of eight (down from 14 in the last World Cup) thermally bonded, three-dimensional panels. These are spherically molded from ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) and thermoplastic polyurethanes (TPU). The surface of the ball is textured with grooves, a technology developed by Adidas called GripnGroove that are intended to improve the ball’s aerodynamics.

The videos are quite impressive, but it seems that the players (the users) were ignored during the whole development process (sponsored adidas players don’t count as serious user research).  Some reactions from other topclass-players (sponsored by other companies, don’t know how objective this can be):

Brazil (Nike) goalkeeper Júlio César compared the ball to a “supermarket” ball that favors strikers and works against goalkeepers. Italian (Puma) keeper Gianluigi Buffon said, “it is very sad that a competition so important as the world championship will be played with such an inadequate ball, whilst Brazilian striker Luís Fabiano called the ball “supernatural”, as it unpredictably changes direction when travelling through the air. Brazilian striker Robinho stated, “for sure the guy who designed this ball never played football. But there is nothing we can do, we have to play with it.”

Adidas  was surprised by the negative reaction of the ball stating that the ball had been used since January of 2010 (?!!!), and that most feedback from players had been positive…

Well, Adidas should better start working from now on the next ball of the World Cup 2014 in Brazil, and lets hope this time will involve the users from the beginning and not only during the last 6 months to test the ball…

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3 responses to “The design of Jabulani ball

  1. that’s what my dad is saying for the last 15 years…that balls now look like balloons!

  2. nicholassakellariou

    Funny, indeed, that the ball was deemed “supernatural.” Nevertheless, one still wonders: was it the artifact (the ball) or Forlan’s shot that belonged to the supernatural “sphere?”

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