THE MEANING OF JABULANI
On December 4th 2009, Adidas presented the official 2010 World Cup ball: the Jabulani. This word means celebration or party in the Zulu dialect. The Jabulani was presented as a technological jewel, created by the AIT (Adidas Innovative Team). It consisted of 8 innovative welded panels, 4 minor triangles and 4 bigger ones, which gave the ball a perfect spherical shape never before achieved. The panel surface was a 3D non slip compound called Grip and Groove or commonly known as goose skin. It had already been successfully tested in the 2008 European Championship. This type of surface allowed an optimal grip on all conditions. The panels were crossed by particular channels, which ensured the designers an improvement in the aerodynamics of the ball. Eleven different colors were adopted to compose the decorations on the Jabulani. Numerology indicates that this was the eleventh Adidas World Cup ball, 11 is the number of players on a football team, 11 are the official languages of South Africa and with 11 different communities, make up a country among the most cosmopolitan of the African continent and the world. Finally, the 4 smaller triangles of the design recalls the external facade of the Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg.
THE TEST PHASE
The new stratified composition of the ball included two layers in polyester and cotton, while the surface was Impranil, the patented plastic from Bayer AG in Leverkusen, already used in the 2002 Fevernova and the 2006 Teamgeist. During the year 2009 the performance of the new ball was confirmed by several tests performed at the University of Loughborough (England) and several wind tunnel tests in Scheinfeld (Germany). According to Adidas after the first tests several players from around the world expressed their unanimous positive opinion about the ball, making the new Jabulani more acceptable than other previous Adidas footballs. The Jabulani was tested by important partners of Adidas, international football clubs. Among them we find European clubs like AC Milan and Bayern Munich, the North American Orlando Pirates, and the South African Ajax of Cape Town. The first important test - presentation for the Jabulani was the Africa Cup of Nations (held in Angola in February 2010) and won by Egypt beating Cameroon 1-0 in the final match.
As in the 2006 World Cup as well as in South Africa 2010 the balls were personalized, bearing the data of each individual game. More or less, as it was for the 2006 World Cup ball Teamgeist, on the front section we could find the following official information: names of the teams, date and time of the beginning of the match, city and name of the stadium. Only one ball for each game had an additional marker, just below the colorful logo of South Africa 2010: KICK-OFF - this ball was only devoted to the kick-off of the game. It was placed on a pedestal in front of the marked exit from the locker rooms and was taken by the referee and brought to midfield. It is fair and correct to talk about a ball with which the match began because at the first out from the pitch the ball was collected and replaced by an identical one. The kick off ball, however, represented the true novelty of the 2010 World cup, as far as the customization of footballs.
A DIFFERENT BALL FOR THE FINAL MATCH
Even in this World Cup (following the successful experience of 2006 both commemorative and commercial) Adidas created a very special ball for the final match. It was a Jabulani, both modified in color and decorations, named “Jo’bulani”; the synthesis of the names Johannesburg (the city where the final was held) and Jabulani, the official tournament ball. The Jo’bulani had a partial golden coverage, giving the ball a noble and uniqueness that the finalization of a World Cup demanded. Regarding the smaller triangles, the vibrant colorful mosaics of the Jabulani were replaced brilliant golden ones. Also in the South African 2010 World Cup, the Final match ball exhibited great elegance. It is a worth to also report that the super-technological ball, was overwhelmed by a storm of criticism before and after the World Cup begun.