SESTRIERE, Italy – Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon has joined the chorus of players criticizing the World Cup ball.
“Usually you get used to it, but in this case every touch comes with the unknown,” Buffon said Tuesday at the Azzurri’s training camp in the Italian Alps. “The trajectory is really unpredictable.”
Buffon knows a thing or two about ball trajectories. He allowed only two goals over seven games when Italy won the World Cup in Germany four years ago — an own goal from Cristian Zaccardo against the United States and a penalty kick by Zinedine Zidane in the final against France.
The upcoming tournament in South Africa will be his fourth World Cup.
Buffon said he realized there was a problem with the Adidas “Jabulani” ball the first day he encountered it, adding that all players — not only goalkeepers — will be affected.
Buffon suggested that when midfielder Andrea Pirlo makes a bad pass, he’s usually off by 10 centimetres, “but with this ball he risks missing by three metres.”
Buffon’s counterparts, Spain’s Iker Casillas and Brazil’s Julio Cesar, have also criticized the Jabulani, comparing it to balls on sale at a supermarket.
Brazilian forward Robinho also weighed in.
“For sure the guy who designed this ball never played football,” Robinho said. “But there is nothing we can do, we have to play with it.”
Adidas spokesman Thomas van Schaik told The Associated Press on Monday that balls had been distributed to all the qualified teams ahead of time and that the teams “had not taken advantage of that if we are only hearing this criticism now.”
Buffon suggested the ball design should be considered with more attention in the future.
“There’s a lot of talk about stadiums, infrastructure and TV and that’s nice and all, but first we’ve got to worry about balls, spikes and jerseys,” Buffon added.