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Jabulani joins vuvuzela in World Cup firing line

By Channel 4 News

Updated on 17 June 2010

After a week criticising the noise from vuvuzelas, players' concerns are focusing on the ball used in the South African World Cup. Channel 4 News looks at the claims about the Jabulani, which Fabio Capello has described as the "worst ball we have played with at a World Cup".

Jabulani in action (Credit: Getty)

The light-weight ball, manufactured by Adidas and tested at Loughborough University, has been named after the Zulu word for celebration.

Its aerodynamics are said to have been improved by grooves in the ball's surface.

Yet football analysts have blamed it for the low number of goals that have been scored during the opening matches of the South African World Cup, and the number of wayward strikes.

The Jabulani has hit the back of the net just 25 times during the first round, the lowest number over the past three World Cups.

Germany managed to score four goals in a single match during its demolition of Australia.

Co-incidentally the ball has been used in Bundesliga matches since February. However Adidas says the Jabulani has also been used in the United States and Argentina, along with the Africa Cup of Nations.

England coach Fabio Capello yesterday joined the criticism of the Jabulani.

"I think it's the worst ball we have played with at a World Cup," he said. "It's impossible to control the ball for the keeper. For the players it's not easy.

"For the keepers it is terrible because it is always moving. For this reason every training session ends with shooting practice at the keepers, to prepare the players for the movement of the ball."

Speaking at a news conference on Thursday, England captain Steven Gerrard described the ball as "very unpredictable".

"You do get an advantage when you are shooting because the keeper doesn't know what's coming. For our own goalies they are having certain problems with them.

"But it's the same for both sides. This is going to be the ball until the end so we've got to get on with it, accept it."

Ivory Coast coach, and former England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson has also criticised the ball, as have some players.

Slovenia captain Robert Koren described it as "really difficult to control", Nigeria's Dickson Etuhu was scathing, saying it was "the worst ball ever".

However Fifa has stood by the ball, saying it was supplied to national sides in February.

20,000 fans are expected to arrive in Cape Town for England's match against Algeria, with Keme Nzerem saying the city's senior police officer has warned them to behave - and not smoke drugs.

However the police will not be strictly enforcing a city rule saying that no one can drink beer in the streets.

The World Cup organising chief Danny Jordaan also refused to accept the Jabulani has had anything to do with the low goal scoring totals.

"The teams have trained with these balls long before they arrived here - this is how football works, you never blame yourself, you find something else to blame," he said.

Noise over vuvuzelas
The row over balls may be taking some of the pressure off the much maligned vuvuzela, the African trumpet that produces a continuous drone that some players and fans claim has damaged the atmosphere of world cup matches.

Lionel Messi, Argentina's star striker, said the horns had created an atmosphere of "like being deaf".

The Dutch team banned spectators from blowing their vuvuzelas during training sessions.

The German Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund today banned the vuvuzela from its matches next season, becoming the first European club to silence the trumpet.

"Our fans don't want to have these trumpets," said Hans-Joachim Watzke, Dortmund's general manager.

But no Barclays Premier league side has followed suit.

Despite their critics, some of England's 20,000 fans now in Cape Town for Friday's match against Algeria are still happy to blow their trumpets. 

Reports from the city say England-branded vuvuzelas have sold out.

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