Adidas dismiss talk of Germany ball advantage

JOHANNESBURG - Claims that German players gained an unfair advantage by playing with the much-criticised Jabulani World Cup ball far longer than any other team were dismissed as an "urban myth" by manufacturer Adidas on Friday.

"The ball was launched at a Bayern Munich match on December 4, which is why some people have been claiming the Germans have been using it for longer than anyone else," said Thomas Van Schaik, Global Public Relations head for the German-based firm.

Van Schaik said the ball had been used in at least eight domestic leagues since it was launched last December.

It was also the only ball used at the African Cup of Nations in January and FIFA's Club World Championship staged in Qatar last December.

"It was used by several clubs in Germany contracted to Adidas but it was also used in the Argentinean League, and in South Africa, Russia, Austria, Switzerland, Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal and in French Cup matches," he told Reuters in a telephone interview.

"It may have had a few different markings, or different logos, but it was exactly the same ball. It was also widely used in the MLS and was made available to every association competing at the World Cup from February."

Laboratory testing was done at Britain's Loughborough University and FIFA's own testing facilities and tests were carried out with players from Chelsea, Real Madrid and AC Milan among others from 2008 until the ball's launch last December.

Every association had been given 25 balls to prepare with in the run-up to the tournament, and could have more if they wanted, Van Schaik added.

"We acknowledge that it might have taken a little bit of time to get used to it, but I would like to dispel another urban myth that it is too light," he said.

"FIFA regulations stipulate the ball must weigh between 410 and 450 grams, and every single ball weighs 440 grams, with a plus or minus differential of two grams."

HIGH ALTITUDE

FIFA presented the Jabulani to World Cup coaches at South Africa's Sun City in February, he added, where the ball's development team explained the effect that thinner air of high altitude at some of the venues would have.

A number of coaches and players have criticised the Jabulani in the opening phase of games with England coach Fabio Capello calling it the worst ball ever.

"The goalkeepers are not happy at all," said Sven-Goran Eriksson, coach of Ivory Coast who drew their opening match with Portugal. "It's too late to do anything about it now but it's a discussion that authorities might have after the World Cup."

However, Germany striker Thomas Mueller, who scored against Australia in Germany's opening match, said he did not think the ball was a problem.

"OK we have been playing with it for a bit more than the other teams, but essentially every team has been using this ball for the same length of time," he said earlier this week.

"One or two weeks are enough to get used to it. To make such a big fuss about it seems to be an issue for teams that are not doing as well as they had hoped."

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