The Belle Is the Ball

FIFA's World Cup May Be Boring--But the Soccer Ball Won't

Next to the Olympics, the Super Bowl and possibly any motor racing event in which somebody crashes, the World Cup is one of the most popular and most viewed sporting events on Earth. Few people realize, though, that the most interesting backstory of the World Cup often doesn’t belong to a team or an individual player, but to the sphere of leather they end up kicking around.

We’re not trying to be facetious or anything with that statement (mostly because we don’t know entirely what that word means). We genuinely mean that the World Cup ball is a work of engineering genius and that it’s also possibly haunted.

For example, the ball every player is going to be kicking around this year is a sexy little number called the “Brazuca” which was made by Adidas specifically for the competition. Now you’d think that making a World Cup ball would be as simple as grabbing a couple of thousand generic soccer balls and painting them the colors of the Brazilian flag and doubling the price, because who the hell cares, right? But as with most things in life, it’s just not that simple. For a start, every ball has to be exactly the same and as such, they’re held to a way higher standard of quality than the ones made out of fish leather and chewing gum they sell to us ordinary folk.

It’s partly for this reason that the Brazuca has spent more time being kicked by robotic feet than John Connor’s ancestors. As noted here, the Brazuca was designed from the ground up to cut through the air as cleanly as possible and it has been subjected to so many aerodynamic tests that kicking it hard enough into a university would probably get you a degree in physics. The people behind the ball have basically admitted that they were forced to start from “square one” when they began designing the Brazuca and that it has taken a lot of tests to get it right. In other words, this thing hasn’t even been used in a single game yet and it has already been experimented on more than Tony Stark’s chest. We weren’t kidding when we said this thing would be the most interesting thing on the pitch. If you still don’t believe us after that, wait until you hear about the ball they used for the 2010 World Cup.

If you’re currently wondering why the hell Adidas had to re-invent the freakin’ ball for this years World Cup, the answer is because the official 2010 World Cup ball (also made by Adidas) was so spherical nobody could kick it straight, no, that isn’t a typo. The so-called Jabulani used throughout the 2010 World Cup was like the Brazuca, created from the ground up to be the perfect soccer ball. So dedicated were the team of eggheads behind the Jabulani to making sure the ball was absolutely perfect, that they went as far as designing it with all of the stitching on the inside. The end result was a ball that was almost “perfectly spherical,” in essence making it technically, the perfect ball.

A fact which made no difference to the people who were actually asked to play with the thing, mainly because almost none of them could kick it straight. Almost as soon as the ball was released, complaints began pouring in from players from every corner of the globe about how much it sucked. Some players complained that it would sharply veer off when kicked, others claimed that it wouldn’t bounce right and one player even suggested that it looked it was possessed by a supernatural entity. The thing to keep in mind here was that these weren’t random @$$#()!%$ on an internet forum or something, they were world-class soccer players, who were all complaining that, like Tom Cruise, the ball was too perfect to kick in the face.

The sheer number of complaints about the ball prompted some scientists to look at it more closely and they discovered that it was actually “too perfect” which greatly threw off its aerodynamics, which meant that even the literal best players in the world couldn’t kick it properly. Just let that soak in. During the 2010 World Cup the ball every game was played with was so perfectly spherical that it broke physics and prompted at least one player to question whether it was haunted or not. Still not sold on the fact that the ball is the most interesting thing on the pitch? Well, lets go back to 2006 shall we?

During the 2006 World Cup in Germany, Adidas again were charged with making a ball and again they went out of their way to make the ball as perfect as possible, which the dubbed the Teamgeist. Can you see where this is going yet? Like in 2010, dozens of players ended up complaining that they couldn’t kick the ball properly. Once again, we need to point out that the people complaining were literally the best players on the entire planet. We should also point out that players sponsored directly by Adidas had absolutely no problem with the ball at all which isn’t suspicious in the slightest.

According to players, the ball was covered in a weird plastic that made it difficult to catch in wet weather and even harder to kick. The best part is, players were complaining about this ball before they were even supposed to have officially practiced with it. For example, one English player bought six of the balls with his own money to practice with and then proceeded to immediately talk crap about it to the media.

So why did a professional soccer player feel the need to have to buy a Teamgeist with his own money instead of just trusting Adidas? Well it’s because during the World Cup before that held in Korea, the official ball (the Fevernova) was deemed “too light” and generally $#!+ty by a large number of players taking part in the competition. Before any of you ask, yes, it was made by Adidas and no, no players sponsored by them seemed to have a problem with it.

Curiously, the ball Adidas made for the World Cup before that again in France, which was basically just an average soccer ball painted the colors of the French flag and nobody complained about it.

So to conclude, at this moment in time, the last three balls made by Adidas (all of which were supposedly “perfect”) were so unpredictable that they looked like they were haunted in the hands feet of the best players on Earth. And this year they’re going to be playing with an even more perfect ball that’s equally as untested in a real world setting. History is on our side when we say that there is a pretty good chance that there is going to be at least one moment in this year’s World Cup where someone kicks the ball and it’s going to fly off in the opposite direction and ding someone in the melon. Which, like we said at the start of this piece, pretty much makes it one of the most interesting things on the pitch.

Karl Smallwood is a freelance comedy writer you can hire! His work has been featured on Cracked, Toptenz and Gunaxin. You should probably click those links to make sure he isn’t lying. He also runs his own website where he responds to the various pieces of hate-mail he’s gotten over the years, in fact, he got so much hate-mail that he wrote a book about it that you can buy on Amazon. When he isn’t writing, Karl also Tweets and uploads pictures of himself drinking on Facebook.

Karl unearthed more athletic history in The Warrior More Metal than Actual Metal and found a way to win regardless in The Art of Video Gamesmanship.

Even clothes were afraid to approach him.

Even clothes were afraid to approach him.


We mean gaming. Did you think we speak of country matters?

We mean gaming. Did you think we speak of country matters?


More from Karl Smallwood

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