It looks like some of the World Cup keepers aren’t thrilled with the new Teamgeist World Cup Soccer Ball. As I noted in an earlier post, the Teamgeist is a radical change in soccer ball construction. It is supposedly rounder than other balls and has a new coating that helps resist water absorption.

Over the World Cup Blog, they note that the German keeper would rather be playing with a Nike ball:

Germany number one keeper Jens Lehmann says the world’s roundest ball favors outfield players and that it isn’t fun to use in poor weather. "When it rains it’s not going to be very comfortable for us. It gets very slippery. It also moves a lot in the air. The Nike ball feels more like an old fashioned leather ball. The Adidas one is more plastic."

I think the ability to repel water is a good thing. Soggy balls aren’t going to help shooters very much, though I can imagine a surface that keeps water out might be slippery (though my understanding of the Teamgeist information was that the water seal was a sub layer, not the outer layer.)

As Bob notes at the World Cup Blog…

It seems that part of the job description for keepers these days that you have to be able to complain about the modern footballs while maintaining a straight face. It is, of course, a convenient excuse if you let in a lot of goals.

Of course it’s the balls fault! Though I can imagine the new balls move more in the air. There’s a research project for you physics types out there. As soccer balls get rounder, do they get more unstable in the air if rotation is low? I wonder what effect the new panel design has on airflow over the surface of the ball compared to a normal hex/pentagon stitched ball. Any takers?

UPDATE: The Guardian has some more feedback from England’s keeper, Paul Robinson and he’s not happy at all:

"The players these days are top quality. They can do anything with the ball and this one moves all over the place. It’s a difficult ball for goalkeepers, full stop. There’s no stitching whatsoever. It’s two sections glued together and it’s a lot lighter than the Premiership ball. Every ball is going to move unless you go back to the old-fashioned bricks that we used to play with on frosty school mornings, but this one moves everywhere.

"There’s a plastic coating around it and when it’s wet it’s even worse. We just have to live with it, but it’s not at all goalkeeper-friendly."

I, for one, think this is a GREAT thing. Intead of changing the sacred laws of the game trying to boost match scores a bit, turns out we just needed a new high tech ball. It will be interesting to see how thigns pan out and if the scoring overall is higher this time around. Keepers beware! (Hat Tip The Fan)