on which player you ask, the "Fevernova" ball that sports
equipment maker Adidas says provides the ultimate soccer experience
is uncontrollable, too big or just plain "stupid". The
ball also has its fans, like England's David Beckham, but so far
they seem to have been outnumbered by critics.
"It is like one of those crazy, bouncing balls, those that
you play with when you are a kid," Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi
Buffon pronounced last week, becoming the latest in a long line
of players to criticise the high-tech ball.
Adidas says the ball, splashed with gold colouring, is quite
simply the best around -- 25 percent more accurate than the ball
used at France 98 thanks to meticulous testing by scientists in
"It's the best ball we've ever made," said Anne Putz,
corporate public relations manager for Adidas, which has made
the balls for every World Cup since 1970. "I think some of
the players have yet to get used to the change in colour and design."
The tongue-twisting nature of its contents confirms that the
World Cup ball has come a long way from the leather-and-laces
variety that was common as recently as the 1960s.
The Fevernova's secret, Adidas says, is its radically improved
Syntactic foam and unique knitted Raschel fabric.
Given that this is supposed to make the ball faster and provide
the free-kick specialists like Beckham with more power, it may
not be surprising that goalkeepers like Buffon are unhappy.
Spain goalkeeper Pedro Contreras said the ball acts "strangely",
while Danish keeper Thomas Sorensen admitted glumly that it would
probably result in more spectacular goals.
"As a goalkeeper, you have to live with the fact that the
makers create balls for the benefit of strikers," he said
before leaving Copenhagen for South Korea.
But outfield players have also weighed in with criticism, many
saying the ball is too light and therefore hard to control.
"It's big and it's too light," Japan's Jiji news agency
quoted Brazilian forward Edilson as saying earlier this month,
while striker Rivaldo said it soared too far when kicked.
Journalists at the main press centre in Yokohama have been given
the chance to try out the Fevernova from the penalty spot, with
the aim of hitting special targets in the goal.
So far, few have been able to score more than five out of ten,
although this may have little to do with the quality of the ball.
Putz admits that the ball is on the light side of FIFA's 420
to 445 gram weight requirement, but says it is no bigger than
The controversy over the ball also has an off-pitch dimension.
Industry insiders say it may be no coincidence that players from
Brazil, sponsored by Adidas rival Nike, have been among the ball's
most vociferous critics.
The same might go for the praise dished out for the ball by Beckham,
one of the main players used to promote Adidas equipment.