Adidas Jabulani

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Adidas Jabulani
TypeAssociation football
Inception2010; 12 years ago (2010)
Last production year2012; 10 years ago (2012)

The Jabulani (/ˌæbjʊˈlɑːni/ JAB-yuu-LAH-nee, Zulu: [dʒaɓuˈlaːni])[1] is a football manufactured by Adidas. It was the official match ball for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.[2]

The ball is made from eight spherically moulded panels and has a textured surface intended to improve aerodynamics. It was consequently developed into the Adidas Tango 12 series of footballs.

Jabulani, meaning "be happy!" in Zulu, is the imperative plural form of the verb jabula "to be happy".[1]


The ball was constructed consisting of eight (down from 14 in the 2006 World Cup) thermally bonded, three-dimensional panels. These then were spherically moulded from ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) and thermoplastic polyurethanes (TPU). The surface of the ball was textured with grooves, a technology developed by Adidas called "Grip 'n' Groove"[3] that was intended to improve the ball's aerodynamics. The design had received considerable academic input, being developed in partnership with researchers from Loughborough University, United Kingdom.[4]

Technical specification[edit]

FIFA-approved standard[5] Jabulani measurements[5]
Circumference 68.5–69.5 cm 69.0 ± 0.2 cm
Diameter ≤ 1.5% difference ≤ 1.0% difference
Water absorption ≤ 10% weight increase ~ 0% weight increase
Weight 420–445 g 440 ± 0.2 g
Uniform rebound test ≤ 10 cm ≤ 6 cm
Loss of pressure ≤ 20% ≤ 10%


The ball had four triangular design elements on a white background. The number 11 was prominent in the use of the ball, as 11 different colours were used; representing the 11 starting players in a football squad, the 11 official languages of South Africa, and the 11 South African communities.[6]

The Jabulani Angola, used at the 2010 African Cup of Nations in Angola, was coloured to represent the yellow, red and black of the host nation's flag.[7] An orange version is available for winter games and a yellow version for indoor games.[8]

A gold colour version, called the Jo'bulani (/ˌbjʊˈlɑːni/ JOH-byuu-LAH-nee), was used for the 2010 FIFA World Cup Final. Its name is a portmanteau of "Jabulani" and "Jo'burg", a common nickname for Johannesburg, the match venue. The gold colouring of the ball mirrored the colour of the FIFA World Cup Trophy and also echoed another of Johannesburg's nicknames: "the City of Gold".[9] The Jo'bulani ball was the second World Cup Final ball to be produced, the first time being the +Teamgeist Berlin for the 2006 FIFA World Cup.[9]


The balls were made in China, using latex bladders from India,[10] thermoplastic polyurethane-elastomer from Taiwan, ethylene vinyl acetate, isotropic polyester/cotton fabric, glue and ink from China.[11]


Carlos Alberto Parreira and Franz Beckenbauer presenting the 2010 FIFA World Cup semi-final match balls

It was announced on 4 December 2009 that the Jabulani was to be the official match ball of the 2010 FIFA World Cup held in South Africa.[2] The word jabulani means "celebrate" in Zulu.[2]

The ball was also used as the match ball for the 2009 FIFA Club World Cup in the United Arab Emirates, and a special version of the ball, the Jabulani Angola, was the match ball of the 2010 African Cup of Nations.

This ball was also used in the 2010 Clausura Tournament of Argentina as well as the 2010 MLS season in the United States and Canada in the league's colours of blue and green.

In Europe domestic leagues, it was used in the 2010–11 Bundesliga[12] in the league signature colours of red and white, known as the "Torfabrik" ("Goal Factory"),[13] and in the 2010–11 Primeira Liga, coloured in white.

UEFA used the ball in the UEFA Super Cup and the UEFA Europa League with respective official match ball colours and design.[14] [15]



Even more than the Fevernova and Teamgeist at the two previous tournaments, the Jabulani received pre- and post-tournament criticism.[16] Brazil goalkeeper Júlio César compared it to a "supermarket" ball that favoured strikers and worked against goalkeepers.[17] Other similar complaints came from Giampaolo Pazzini,[18] Claudio Bravo,[19] and Iker Casillas ("it is very sad that a competition so important as the world championship will be played with such a horrible ball.").[20]

Robinho dribbling an Adidas Jabulani ball at the 2010 World Cup

Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon said, "The new model is absolutely inadequate and I think it's shameful letting play such an important competition, where a lot of champions take part, with a ball like this"[21] while Brazilian striker Luís Fabiano called the ball "supernatural", as it unpredictably changed direction when traveling through the air.[22] 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."[23] Joe Hart of England, after training with the ball for a number of days, said the "balls have been doing anything but staying in my gloves".[24] He did, however, describe the ball as "good fun" to use, even though it is hard work for goalkeepers to cope with.[25] English goalkeeper David James said that, "The ball is dreadful. It's horrible, but it's horrible for everyone."[26] It was suggested the ball behaved "completely different" at altitude by former England coach Fabio Capello.[27]

Denmark coach Morten Olsen, after their 1–0 friendly defeat at the hands of Australia, said, "We played with an impossible ball and we need to get used to it."[28] Argentina forward Lionel Messi stated, "The ball is very complicated for the goalkeepers and for us [forwards]."[29] Argentine coach Diego Maradona said, "We won't see any long passes in this World Cup because the ball doesn't fly straight."[30]

American Clint Dempsey was more favorable. He said that, "If you just hit it solid, you can get a good knuckle on the ball... you've just got to pay a little bit more, you know, attention when you pass the ball sometimes."[31]

It was suggested by The Guardian on 16 June 2010 that the Jabulani ball might have been responsible for the goal drought in the first round of the tournament. The Guardian mentioned the FIFA representative, who was queried daily for his opinion on the goal drought, as saying it was probably too early to make a definitive judgment, though it would be hard to deny that the first round was more cagey and defensively minded than usual. Owen Gibson of The Guardian suggested that a lack of confidence in how the ball would travel could be affecting the number of shots taken.[32] Following Portugal's 7–0 victory over North Korea in the second round of the group stage, however, Portugal's coach Carlos Queiroz said, "We love the ball."[33]

In July 2010, former Liverpool footballer Craig Johnston wrote a 12-page open letter to FIFA president Sepp Blatter outlining perceived failings of the Jabulani ball. He compiled feedback from professional players criticizing the ball for poor performance and asked that it be abandoned by FIFA.[34][35]

Many football fans[who?] questioned why an African-made ball, such as one by not-for-profit African manufacturer Alive & Kicking, was not chosen for a World Cup held in Africa.[36][37][38][39]

Response from Adidas[edit]

A number of Adidas-sponsored[40][41][42][43] players responded favourably to the ball. Álvaro Arbeloa, commented that, "It's round, like always." Brazilian midfielder Kaká said, "For me, contact with the ball is all-important, and that's just great with this ball."[44] English midfielder Frank Lampard called it "a very strong ball, true to hit".[44] German midfielder Michael Ballack said it was "fantastic; the ball does exactly what I want it to".[44]

Adidas has said that the ball had been used since January 2010, and that most feedback from players had been positive. A spokesperson said the company was "surprised" by the negative reaction to the ball, and highlighted that the frequent pre-tournament criticism a new ball receives inevitably dies down as the tournament proceeds.[45]

Response from FIFA[edit]

On 27 June 2010, FIFA acknowledged concerns about the ball, but also said that they would not act on the problem until after the tournament. According to secretary general Jérôme Valcke, FIFA will discuss the matter with coaches and teams after the World Cup, then meet with the manufacturer Adidas.[46]

NASA study[edit]

When a relatively smooth ball with seams flies through the air without much spin, the air close to the surface is affected by the seams, producing an asymmetric flow. This asymmetry creates side forces that can suddenly push the ball in one direction and cause volatile swerves and swoops. This effect is referred to as "knuckling".[47] Older designs of the ball have a knuckle speed of around 30 miles per hour (48 km/h). NASA scientists at the Fluid Mechanics Laboratory at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California, concluded that the Jabulani, with its relatively smoother surface, starts to knuckle at a higher speed of 45–50 mph (72–80 km/h).[47] This coincides with the typical speed of a ball following a free-kick around the goal area making the effect more visible.[47]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b " − Zulu-English dictionary". jabulani.
  2. ^ a b c (4 December 2009). "Jabulani: The official matchball". Archived from the original on December 8, 2012. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
  3. ^ "Jabulani Official World Cup Ball Review". Archived from the original on 16 January 2010. Retrieved 12 January 2010.
  4. ^ "adidas JABULANI Official Match Ball of the 2010 FIFA World Cup". Archived from the original on 20 January 2010. Retrieved 29 January 2010.
  5. ^ a b Zarda, Brett (2010-06-05). "The Science Behind Jabulani, Adidas's 2010 World Cup Soccer Ball". Retrieved 2010-06-17.
  6. ^ "2010 World Cup Jabulani Adidas ball". Archived from the original on 2009-12-07. Retrieved 6 December 2009.
  7. ^ "Adidas Jabulani Angola – Football for African Cup of Nations". Archived from the original on 2 January 2010. Retrieved 24 December 2009.
  8. ^ "Fussbälle bei". Retrieved 17 June 2016.
  9. ^ a b (20 April 2010). "Glittering golden ball for Final". Archived from the original on April 30, 2010. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
  10. ^ "Kerala latex a World Cup winner". Retrieved 17 June 2016.
  11. ^ "Dishtracking article on manufacturing the ball". Archived from the original on 2010-08-18. Retrieved 2010-06-17.
  12. ^ ""Jabulani" wird Bundesliga-Spielball". Archived from the original on 17 July 2010. Retrieved 4 July 2010.
  13. ^ New Ball, New Logo, New Season Archived 2010-07-24 at the Wayback Machine,, 20 July 2010.
  14. ^ "Adidas UEFA Competition Match Balls". Archived from the original on 19 September 2010. Retrieved 21 September 2010.
  15. ^ "Adidas UEFA Competition Match Balls". Archived from the original on 19 September 2010. Retrieved 21 September 2010. Alt URL
  16. ^ Ghosh, Pallab (4 June 2010). "'Engineers defend World Cup football amid criticism'". BBC News. Archived from the original on 15 June 2010. Retrieved 21 June 2010.
  17. ^ "Julio Cesar calls Jabulani 'supermarket ball'". The Soccer Room. 28 May 2010. Archived from the original on 21 June 2010. Retrieved 21 June 2010.
  18. ^ "World Cup 2010: Italy's Giampaolo Pazzini Latest To Complain About 'Jabulani' Match Ball". 29 May 2010. Archived from the original on 2 June 2010. Retrieved 21 June 2010.
  19. ^ "(in Spanish)". La Nación. Archived from the original on 2 February 2017. Retrieved 21 June 2010.
  20. ^ Sunday's World Cup 2010 Round Up
  21. ^ "Buffon: "Nuovi palloni inadeguati e vergognosi" – Italia / Girone F / Mondiali 2010 / Calcio". Tuttosport. Archived from the original on 2 June 2010. Retrieved 21 June 2010.
  22. ^ "Luís Fabiano and Júlio Baptista agree that the World Cup ball is "supernatural"". Archived from the original on 20 June 2010. Retrieved 31 May 2010.
  23. ^ "Robinho glad he returned to Brazil, wants to stay – World Soccer". Yahoo! Sports. 1 June 2010. Retrieved 21 June 2010.[permanent dead link]
  24. ^ "Why the 'appalling' and 'horrible' Jabulani is another Fifa own goal". The Daily Telegraph. London. 31 May 2010. Archived from the original on 3 June 2010. Retrieved 31 May 2010.
  25. ^ "Hart admits World Cup ball concern". 30 May 2010. Archived from the original on 18 June 2010. Retrieved 21 June 2010.
  26. ^ "World Cup 2010: David James criticises Jabulani ball". BBC Sport. 2 June 2010. Archived from the original on 4 June 2010. Retrieved 2 June 2010.
  27. ^ "Jabulani Gets Thumbs Down". Sports Illustrated. 24 May 2010. Archived from the original on 18 June 2010. Retrieved 21 June 2010.
  28. ^ Stevenson, Jonathan (1 June 2010). "World Cup squad news". BBC Sport. Archived from the original on 4 June 2010. Retrieved 1 June 2010.
  29. ^ "Messi savours victory but not ball". FourFourTwo. 12 June 2010. Retrieved 13 June 2010.
  30. ^ McDonnell, David (25 June 2010). "Jabulani ball is reason Messi is struggling, says Maradona". Daily Mirror. Archived from the original on 28 June 2010. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
  31. ^ Blum, Ronald (3 June 2010). "Hahnemann thinks World Cup ball is bad invention". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 17 August 2012.
  32. ^ Gibson, Owen (16 June 2010). "World Cup 2010: Negative tactics and caution are causing goal drought". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 19 June 2010. Retrieved 17 June 2010.
  33. ^ Casert, Robert (22 June 2010). "Jabulani ball a hit with Portugal after 7-0 win". Associated Press. Archived from the original on 25 June 2010. Retrieved 23 June 2010.
  34. ^ "Craig Johnston writes to FIFA about World Cup ball". The Drum. 6 July 2010. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  35. ^ "CJ Mr Blatter Letter re Jabulani Ball July 2010". Archived from the original on 8 July 2010.
  36. ^ Barkell, Robbie (29 June 2010). "The Jabulani ball epitomises the World Cup's legacy for Africa". Labour Campaign for International Development. Archived from the original on 13 July 2010.
  37. ^ "The importance of the soccer ball". Creative Consulting & Development Works. 28 June 2010. Archived from the original on 25 April 2012.
  38. ^ "Why the choice of football for the World Cup is a missed opportunity". Kabissa. 1 July 2010. Archived from the original on 2 December 2011.
  39. ^ Moses, Toby (18 July 2010). "Planet Sport: Charity says balls to Sepp Blatter's legacy". The Guardian. London.
  40. ^ "adidas | Sponsors & Partners | Chelsea FC | Official Site | Chelsea". Chelsea FC. Archived from the original on 2010-02-15. Retrieved 2010-06-17.
  41. ^ "Players Dislike Adidas World Cup Ball". Soccer FanHouse. Archived from the original on 3 June 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-17.
  42. ^ "Adidas XI vs Nike XI: Which Brand Has the Best Football Team?". The Offside. Archived from the original on 2010-10-09. Retrieved 2010-06-17.
  43. ^ "Ricardo Kaka Endorsements". Archived from the original on 23 July 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-21.
  44. ^ a b c "Players fear world cup ball". 2010-06-07. Archived from the original on 2011-06-06. Retrieved 2010-06-17.
  45. ^ "Adidas shocked at criticism of World Cup ball". NBC Sports. 31 May 2010. Archived from the original on 1 June 2010. Retrieved 2 June 2010.
  46. ^ "Sunday's World Cup round-up". BBC Sport. BBC. 27 June 2010. Archived from the original on 27 June 2010. Retrieved 27 June 2010.
  47. ^ a b c "NASA Scores Big With Student Soccer Players in the U.S.A. and Canada". National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

External links[edit]

Preceded by FIFA World Cup official ball
Succeeded by