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Will the goals start to flow? The world waits...

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David Bond | 22:30 UK time, Wednesday, 16 June 2010

2010 World Cup: Johannesburg
It's official - this is the most boring World Cup in history. A sweeping statement, I know, but according to statistics for the first round of group matches, there have been fewer goals scored at this stage of the competition than at any point in the last 80 years.

And it's not as if there are just one or two goals in it. Mexico 1986, the closest to South Africa 2010 in terms of goals scored, managed seven more after the first 16 games.

Now, I know that exciting football is not all about goals. Wednesday produced the sort of shock which makes this such a wonderful event, favourites Spain coming unstuck 1-0 against Switzerland.

It was hardly vintage Brazil on Tuesday, but Dunga's selecao showed flashes of the individual brilliance we have come to expect from the most successful team in World Cup history. 

Even some of the goalless draws have been compelling, so as ever, it is unwise to pin too much faith on statistics.

But the overwhelming sense here and at home is that this World Cup is yet to match the vibrancy of the South African fans who have created a carnival atmosphere. Even the freezing weather in Johannesburg and the soggy conditions in Cape Town have failed to silence the blare of the vuvuzelas.

So why has the football been so disappointing?

Most people seem to be pointing the finger of blame at the swerving Jabulani, the controversial adidas match ball, which has upset so many players and managers.

England manager Fabio Capello says it is the worst he has ever seen, while striker Wayne Rooney described it as a "nightmare". The word being used most commonly by goalkeepers and strikers is unpredictable.

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Germany's 4-0 defeat of Australia is the highest-scoring match of the tournament so far

Certainly the German players seemed to have a major advantage in having used the ball in the Bundesliga for the last year in producing the most emphatic performance of the tournament so far, their 4-0 thrashing of Australia.

Former England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson, now coaching Ivory Coast, has called for a meeting to discuss the problems with the ball. But world governing body Fifa and ball manufacturers adidas say there is no need as there is nothing wrong with it. Players just need to get used to it.
The counter to that argument, of course, is that an unpredictable ball should make life interesting as it makes it far harder for goalkeepers than attacking players. For whatever reason, that hasn't happened so far.

But it can't just be down to the ball. Experts are suggesting the long European season has taken its toll on the top players while there is no doubt some of the world's supposed minnows have raised their game. The improvement among the Asian teams - witness South Korea's victory over Euro 2004 winners Greece, Japan's victory over Cameroon and North Korea's fighting display against Brazil - is the best example of that.

It is way too early to write this World Cup off and the goal statistics tell only a fraction of the story so far. Besides, many a World Cup has ended with a final to forget. And with illustrious names like Maradona and Jurgen Klinsmann promising goals to come later in the tournament perhaps a slow start is no bad thing.


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  • Comment number 1.

    The tournament will crescendo... no team wants to lose their first match.

    Also, although the ball can't dip quickly unless struck by Ronaldo, it IS round and the same weight as the balls before... sounds like a red herring to me. Also, the Asians are starting to see fruition of their heavy investment in the game; North Korea were heroic! And the Africans are buoyed by the crowds, surely having a positive effect on their performance.

    The second round looks even more tasty - with so amny draws, there are a lot of permutations for surprises!

  • Comment number 2.

    Hopefully the tournament has turned a corner in terms of entertainment today. For me, Spain vs Switzerland and SA vs Uruguay were the best games of the competition so far.

  • Comment number 3.

    Hopefully it was just the first set of games that teams were simply scared of losing. South African and Uruguay certainly seemed much more willing to go forward than in their first games.

  • Comment number 4.

    Today was one of the most enjoyable days of the tournament.(if not the most enjoyable) Chile came out and attacked against Honduras and showed that they could be a surprise in the tournament.Switzerland showed that Spain can be beaten if you can stifle their wingers and midfield.Uruguay then came out and produced a great performance led by their talisman Diego Forlan.

    What has surprised me,is the two favorites ahve been quite lacklustre and the Germans have showed that they are the eternal "Turniermannschaft".(tournament team)

    As Fergie said a few months ago:"Typical Germans"!

  • Comment number 5.

    It's a tribute to the standard of football that Im not being distracted from my revision!

  • Comment number 6.

    Citing the ball as the main reason for disappointing performances is a poor excuse and I cannot believe how willingly the media accepts that as an explanation. It has become standard practice to criticise the ball at the beginning of major tournaments (just like 2006 & 2008). Obviously the players are happy to point to the ball; it is an easy way to justify their bad games.

    It is s probably no coincidence that most of the criticism comes from players with endorsement deals with Nike or Puma and not Addidas. When the ball was first introduced in Germany in December 2009 not a single player had any complaints about it and now it is supposed to be the worst ball in history. All a bit ridiculous.

  • Comment number 7.

    Today was certainly one of the most enjoyable days of the tournament if not the most enjoyable.

    Chile started the day by showing that attacking football can get you results and they should have had another goal or two for their efforts.Switzerland then showed that Spain weren't untouchable by stifling their midfield and reducing the impact the Spanish wingers had.This was certainly a great display of defensive football .Uruguay then rounded off the day with a superb performance full of attacking threat with Diego Forlan inspirational throughout.

    What has surprised me throughout is the two favorites for the tournament have looked lacklusture,while the Germans were magnificent in their 4-0 thrashing of Australia.The scoreline may have flattered the Germans a bit as the Australians looked a bit depleted after the harsh sending off of Tim Cahill.The Germans proved once again that they are the eternal "turniermanschaft"(tournament team)

    As Fergie said a few months ago,"Typical Germans"!

  • Comment number 8.

    I think the current format of having four teams in a group doesn't help as teams are looking to grind out results in the first game and in order to both stay in touch and crucially not let another team get ahead the games are cagey and nervous with both teams seeming to be happy with a draw.

    Group of five or six teams with three qualifiers and a couple of best fourth placed teams might may make it more exciting and more of an incentive to score goals. Certainly the current format doesn't make for good viewing.

    It is only when teams have to win that matches get interesting

    My team showed that this evening with a 3 - 0 win after securing a point from France

    Vive la Celeste

  • Comment number 9.

    How very typical of FIFA to turn a blind eye to the obvious problem of this joke of a football. So many players are clearly unhappy with it, and regardless of what the fat cats counting their money in a tax-free haven say, the players having to deal with these pathetic excuses of equipment are likely to continue to act negatively. Sweeping this nonsense under the carpet will make for more ridiculous 'technological' decisions in the future, and will surely discourage players and disrupt the tradition of skilful, creative football.

  • Comment number 10.

    any ball that doesnt hold the line it is kicked towards is a waste of time.
    when want goals that are scored to be the result of the players skill in kicking it....not getting lucky because of a chaotic swerve.

    also, if a ball doesnt have enough weight, it makes it hmuch harder to get the ball to arc and dip....this also diminshes the skill factor.

    stop messing with what was already perfect.

    we dont want any more gimmicks. fifa can stop trying to make money out of bringing out a new gimmicky ball everytime.

  • Comment number 11.

    Politics and commerce are ruining the game once again, and we can't do anything about it.

    The fact that players obviously need to adjust so badly to a ball is perverse. We are all gathered to see the climax of 2 years, the system should be adjusted so players render optimally. It's now the other way around, with players having to cope with circumstances which are a bad influence on their game.

    The Vuvuzela is another joke. It affects the quality of play, and how could this ever be a good thing. I dont watch the WC for cultural enlightment, I watch other programs for that. And FIFA's depiction of culture is shady how it is anyway.

    The world cup should be a celebration of international football, not just the football of 1 country. I love the different atmospheres that usually every different match with its respective teams brings along. Now all of that is blown away by an instrument which is hardly typical 'African'. Its no older than 10 years, and originally from Mexico. I'm fine with it, if south african supporters use it to freighten their opponents, but whats is the relevance during a game between Spain and Switzerland?

    Most of the very few goals which have been made were ugly ones to boot. I suspect it will not be different as the tournament progresses. Its a shame, because breaking your opponent down with a wall like defense is even more fruitfull under these circumstances.

    It all is the exact opposite of why we all watch football, and it's all in the name of commerce and politics. World cup 2018 will be in Russia, no doubt, with a lot of political and financial benefits to gain again.

  • Comment number 12.

    With regards to the number of goals, yes, there has never been such a cagey start to a World Cup. Even 1990 started better than this one.

    With regards to the ball, the worst thing about it is not that players are miss-hitting shots and crosses, but that they are actually opting out of any risky passes to a forward in favour of a simpler sideways pass to a more defensive colleague.

  • Comment number 13.

    Think it is just bubbling up nicely..the next sets of games will be very different.

    Good match tonight. Uruguay were excellent and I say that as someone who has taken little interest in them before. Very solid performance.

  • Comment number 14.

    So sick of hearing about the ball. Adidas have, at both this World Cup and the last, come up with a ball that is closer to being perfectly spherical than the standard pentagonal meshes that are used to form most balls. The ball is meant to be spherical, so that is a good thing, and improvement. The new ball is also, despite what a lot of people think, the precise weight of the FIFA specifications, not at all lighter than any previous tournament balls. There is nothing wrong with it, except that the players haven't had enough time to get used to it.

    It seems to be goalies who are whining the most, when, if anything, the ball "problem" is making it fly over their crossbars nine times out of ten. They should be thankful they have so little to do - and it's the strikers who need to change that.

  • Comment number 15.

    FIFA aren't going to let good football get in the way of making money.

  • Comment number 16.

    It is sad to see that the host country's team(south Africa) is on the verge of being eliminated out of the tournament after loosing out to Uruguay.

  • Comment number 17.

    As for the ball - why assume it is a 'good thing' if this ball is more spherical than all previous balls? The difference in shape and lack of seams has a huge impact on the aerodynamics of the ball - golf balls are
    deliberately not round and smooth for very good reasons!

    Extreme changes in behaviour during flight may only occur at certain rates of spin, or at certain air densities and flows (altered by altitude), have all these possibilities really been tested? There are similar complexities with ground friction on different surfaces.

    The players will work these things out, but it takes experience and time.
    You would think that FIFA has the power to arrange a standard ball being used by all the players - instead of just in those countries with the 'right' merchandising deal.

  • Comment number 18.

    From a footballing perspective, I don't understand why they change the ball at all. There's no need to make the shape, size, and weight different - the ones player's use in the premier league, or champions league, work perfectly well. FIFA wouldn't change it because it's a marketing gimmic, surely.....
    Secondly, knowing that the ball was to be changed - why didn't they use the ball in the WC qualifiers, international friendlies and for training? That way every country would become accustomed to it.
    I understand the frustrations of Capello - though it seems his meticulous plans did not consider the ball change. That said, it is the same for everybody (well, except Germany), and it wasn't the ball's fault Green let that goal in now was it....

  • Comment number 19.

    A good tradesman never blames his tools as me old mam used to say..blaming the ball for the sterilisation of football is lazy.
    Apart from Messi there have been no displays of individual brilliance.
    Also to say that no one wants to lose therefore they play dire championship football is again lazy.
    Players have become athletes and have forgotten the importance of a ball in football.
    Watching England hoofing the ball up to Heskey was the anithesis of the total football adopted by the dutch masters of the 70's.
    Still watching every game..still loving the world cup!!

  • Comment number 20.

    I know it's considered impolite to mention it, but the unrelenting massed band of the vuvuzela must be having an affect on the standard of play. How can players shout instructions to their teammates if the sound won't carry? Sometimes the players can't even hear the whistle. Robin van Persie nearly got a booking for carrying on after the whistle was blown.

  • Comment number 21.

    I don't know if the World Cup is boring or not - I've stopped listening and watching.

    You say the vuvuzelas are creating a carnival atmosphere. Well, sadly, on TV and radio, the droning racket they make is simply unbearable.

  • Comment number 22.

    I'm sorry but the ball is a joke. I don't care what FIFA or Adidas say, it's having a severely detrimental affect on the standard of football. Cross field passes are overhit or bounce before the players, through balls skid off the surface and away from players, corners float right over the box, shots are arrowing towards the sky constantly (there is no real dip or weight on the ball at all). The players are quite visibly trying to adapr their shooting technique in order to avoid the ball going skyward - yet this has just resulted in lame curling efforts towards the centre of the goal. The first touches are off aswell, so many times the ball bounces off the players feet or when there's been a scramble in the goalmouth the inability to judgethe ball has prevented clean contact. All these problems are stopping real tempo or rhythm to games developing, and so far they've just been disjointed, with the goals that do occur more out of luck than as a result of extended pressure or quality play. This disjointed and limited way of playing has played into the hands of defensive minded teams, which has pushed the goals level down further.

    These irregularities with the ball are absolutely plain to see, this cannot be swept under the carpet as 'it happens every World Cup'. People always say the keepers complain about the ball, yes they do, but rarely has there been such a widespread complaint from outfield players - and from what I have plainly witnessed with my own eyes from this tournament is their complaints are justified. I honestly can't believe there hasn't been more of a general agreement about this ball, I've watched ALOT of football in my time and these games have been so noticably different to any others I've seen.

    I cannot wait for the league season to come back around, because this has been a waste of time. Thanks FIFA for ruining something I've waited 4 years for.

  • Comment number 23.

    yes with all the bore-draws the urgency levels for all teams has risen and must be felt by now by all of them after this 'first round' of games. Hopefully this will trigger some true all out contests, I thoroughly did not enjoy seeing Spain get beat today (yesterdays news now literally lol) as I did not enjoy their failure to score! I think they can qualify, but the stars need to realise this is the world cup at stake! Here's hoping the big names at least start firing up from tomorrow.

    And heres hoping for a 5-3 scoreline for the final =]]]

  • Comment number 24.

    Does anyone think FIFA should just revert back to the Europass (Euro 08) match ball? Sewellly, great comment, yes this ball does seem bad for goalkeepers but great for defensive lines, as they benefit hugely from broken passes/mis-controls. There was nothing wrong with +Teamgeist in my opinion, I've held and played it, it's a beautiful piece of engineering. Jabulani seems asb's to me, although I have not tried it.

  • Comment number 25.

    Whine, whine, whine, whine, whine, whine, whine just try to enjoy the tournament rather than look for something to complain about!

    Also, perhaps the reason the world cup has less goals is because the weaker teams are improving. These days the teams from Asia, Africa, Central America and even New Zealand have their best players playing in Europe and thus the general level of those teams has improved.

  • Comment number 26.

    The Germans have a major advantage over the other nations as they used the ball in Bundesliga for a year. This has clearly been illustrated in their demolition of Australia. So i wouldn't be surprised at all if they go on to win the whole tournament. In fact i am backing the Germans to win it.

  • Comment number 27.

    Yes, blame the hexagonal ball with uneven weight that will fly to mars if you nod it.

    Seriously? blamming the ball?


  • Comment number 28.

    I do believe the goalscoring and attacking football will improve as the tournament goes on. In the meantime, a few thoughts...

    (1) In the last 4 years, we have finally entered the true global era of football. Even coutries like Andorra, San Marino and the Faroe Islands can provide sometimes troublesome opposition, as we saw in the qualifiers. Look at how far countries like Malta and Cyprus have progressed in the last few years.

    The truth is with good fitness, good organization, good concentrartion, and a tactic set-up to frustrate and grind out a result, even teams with limited skill can succeed. How else did Greece win Euro 2004? And now all serious countries can import the coaches needed to achieve high fitness and teach organization, concentration, and tactics.

    We still remember Zaire allowing 9 in 1974 and El Salvador allowing 10 in 1982 -- these types of scorelines at the World Cup are a product of a long-gone, pre-global football era.

    (2) The common factors in the impressive displays of Germany, South Korea, and Chile are speed, quick passing, constant movement off the ball, and through balls into space. Brazil only scored their two goals by combining these elements. In 2010, these are the key skills needed to break down well-marshalled stubborn defences. Slow and/or predictable teams, no matter how skillful, are too easy to defend against.

    (3) All the talk about the ball is rubbish, and it seems to all be coming from players and coaches who have so far failed to perform. Funny, but I did not notice Messi struggling with any of his passing (accurate), shooting (powerful and on or near the target), or ball control (repeatedly terrific) against Nigeria. And was it because of the ball that Heskey shot straight at Howard?

    The players complaining about the ball may want to take a look at how South Korea and Chile achieved their victories. Instead of whining, players who get paid millions per year should get on with the job, adapt to the conditions at hand, and do what is needed to compete and win.

  • Comment number 29.

    For those complaining this is the most boring World Cup ever --like the author-- check out those orange-covered truffles who are stirring things up...getting arrested at the behest of FIFA's hamfisted Politburo...interrogated deep into the night by South Africa's security police...all for wearing tight, orange minis marketed by an obscure beer called Bavaria... You people really need to get a life! It's the Bavaria Babes or boring anti-football.

  • Comment number 30.

    So statistically it's the most boring world cup ever but statistics don't tell the full story and we've only seen one round of games?
    What a pointless article.

    North Korea and Switzerland have put in amazing performances but there seems to be a dissatisfaction that the big teams aren't crushing everyone in their path. Do we want more games like Saudi Arabia going down 8-0 to Germany in 1998. What is so exciting about that?

    The first commenter has it right, the amount of draws will make the final round of matches absolutely thrilling...

    Re: the ball. Yeah, Maicon really struggled with the ball for the first goal!

  • Comment number 31.

    I don't think New Zealand considers this world cup boring....first WC point!!!

    Get in!

  • Comment number 32.

    Anyone who thinks this isn't the worst world cup ever has not seen any previous tournaments. Not just because of the lack of quality on the field but because of the lack of atmosphere in the stands... where is the sound of salsa dancers, cow bells and bands playing? All drowned out by the irritating sound of bull horns. Please FIFA remember this when awarding tournaments in the future... never again in SA please!

  • Comment number 33.

    It has been the worst World Cup so far. The vuvuzela killing off the match atmosphere and the laughable new ball from Adidas are chiefly responsible. A mate sent me a peek of the match ball that Adidas is developing for 2014:

    Adidas makes the worst footballs of any major manufacturer, simple as. If I wanted to play with a round rubber ball I would buy one for five quid. Nike is much better, but unfortunately the best football manufacturers such as Mitre and Select have been completely marginalized in the market by the two sports behemoths (nike, adidas), who can and do always outbid more specialized manufacturers on major contracts. Most numpties out there judge the quality of a football on how much it costs, so when they fork over 90 bob on a new Adidas of course they think it is the best thing money can buy. Pathetic, really.

    I guess if you think the ball doesn't matter you must have never reached a high proficiency at any skill at all. Go ask a concert pianist whether the quality of their piano matters in their performance and get back to me, thanks.

  • Comment number 34.

    I watched previous world cups, and I don't think this one is the "worst" by far. 32 teams playing in this WC are qualified to do so because of their quality, and I think it is good to see the quality gap between WC finalist is narrowing. It is different in a way that "top" teams are not mopping down some of the "lesser" nation. I think the morale of this is the so called "top" teams need to improve their game even further because the "lesser" countries are catching up (Switzerland, North & South Korea, etc.) , and they are catching up fast. Not whinning like "oh em gee the ball is so hard to control I can't shoot at the goal" or "the vuvuzelas are so noisy I can't concentrate", gee boy, this isn't your playground, it is you who has to adapt, not the venue.

  • Comment number 35.

    The principles of football remain the same, these highly paid professionals need to adapt quickly if they are having problems with the ball. As for the vuvuzelas, keep them out of the stadiums!!

  • Comment number 36.

    I never thought I would root for the South African team and for that matter for all the African teams to get knocked out during the first round in the hope that the infernal vuvuzelas might be silenced. South Africa is not acting like a good host forcing visitors to endure that incessant buzzing - how inconsiderate can you be. To suggest that it "part of the culture" is to denigrate the wonderful musical traditions of Africa.

  • Comment number 37.

    @ 33 - so you're saying that those players out there who are fine with the ball (some even praised it to my knowledge) are a bunch of people who "have never reached a high proficiency at any skill at all"?

    I think the "ball" argument is rubbish unless the majority of the players from the 32 nations complain about it, not only a handful of famous multimillion pound a year players who get most of media coverage.

    About vuvuzelas, if the WC is hosted by Scottland will you ask the audiences not to blow bagpipes because the noise is annoying? It's called world cup for a reason, and if you want a venue with plain and dull atmosphere, why not make one in the north pole and we can watch nations play there every 4 years.

  • Comment number 38.

    I think there's probably a number of factors, most mentioned above, but I am firmly on the side of 'the ball is a big problem' brigade.

    I never recall it being such a big issue before (I go back to 1966 in WC terms)and, to me, it clearly is responsible for endless shots over the bar, overhit crosses and corners, and passes not finding their mark.

    The best example I saw was yesterday in the Spain v Switzerland game. Alonso hit a technically perfect strike from just outside the box, head down, body over the ball....and it started low and hard towards the goal. By the time it got there though it had risen enough to hit the bar.

    The ball IS a problem but hopefully won't spoil the competition.

  • Comment number 39.

    The goals, well goal, certainly flowed for Switzerland yesterday. The opening matches are usually cagey. Teams will begin to let rip as they have to fight for qualification.

  • Comment number 40.

    The 2nd round of group games will be more open as teams who drew or lost their first matches will have to go for it, but once the knockout stages come, I fully expect a lot of teams to revert to the negativity if they are playing a better side and try to hold out for penalties.

  • Comment number 41.

    it is such a big issue because:

    1) as mentioned above, the top teams are underperforming, and no, not because of the ball. Spain got stabbed by Switzerland because Swiss players are adopting total defence most of the time, as stat suggested. It is proven, outside the WC, with a different ball, in Barca vs. Inter game that even with Messi and friends this tactic is hard to penetrate.

    They got smacked by the Swiss goal because a combination of a defensive rattle and luck.

    2)Since the top teams are underperforming (except Germany, which coincidentally is where Adidas came from) the medias and the lay people are looking something to point their fingers on, fueled by underperforming superstars' complaints about the ball, which is then amplified by the media and the internet.

    And now the ball argument is fading down, the medias are shifting to vuvuzela.

    I'm pretty sure if England mashed USA, Spain mopped Switzerland, Brazil demolished N. Korea 8-0, and Portugal won 3-0 with Ronaldo scoring a hatrick, none of this "ball is crap" and "vuvuzela is causing problems" articles will ever see the light of day.

    As for Italy's lameness, look who they blame, the age of the players (ha ha). Why not blame the ball and vuvuzela also? Simply because they are not the real problem.

  • Comment number 42.

    I was astonished to see the first goal of the tournament - South Africa against Mexico. South Africa scored - surely a moment of ecstasy for 95% of the fans in the stadium. Nothing happened: it was like Hull scoring a goal at Anfield. All we heard was the continued drone of the vuvuzelas. That's why this World Cup seems so dull: the entire event is being played in the equivalent of empty stadiums with no atmosphere.

  • Comment number 43.

    I have noticed in this worldcup, often painfully, the Jabulani drifting so high above the post and the freekicks and corners mostly stray off target.
    But I love the game and goalless draws adds a new dimension and so do upsets.
    Now I think I will see the best performances ever by the spanish side in the next match.
    I am missing the Vuvuzelas as well. I didnt like them in the beginning but now they add to the environment! The sound has really gone down nowadays... Does anyone know whats happening?

  • Comment number 44.

    Wow, no scoring at the World Cup, now there's a surprise. You could also add that the players have no toughness or honor. Could it be that this is not actually restricted to the World Cup but football in general? That since scoring is almost impossible on it’s own that the whole strategy to football is try to work the ball into the penalty area, fall down and fake an injury. Then hope the referee awards you a penalty kick. This is what North Americans find out when they reach 12 and stop playing the sport. That the World’s most popular game is also most boring, wimpy and honorless sport around. It would be interesting to see how popular football would be globally if the rest of the world actually had some access to other sports. Maybe it's not the North Americans who hate football that don't get it’s 'beauty' but the rest of the world who don't see it's ugliness.

  • Comment number 45.

    Mate - the first games in the WC are always cagey, no-one's to get off to a losing start. That's why I'm streaking ahead in the WC prediction contest at work I've gone for a load of draws and 1-0 wins. It'll get better starting on Friday night, stand on me!!!

  • Comment number 46.

    @15 "FIFA aren't going to let good football get in the way of making money"

    I don't see how using a poor quality ball makes FIFA more money than using a normal one.

    However, I also think we should judge these World Cup finals based on the whole competition, rather than just the first part of the first round.

  • Comment number 47.

    i have to agree david of the couple of games i have seen they have been snooze fests if the ball was not so light i am sure more goals would have been scored bring on the 2013 rugby league world cup a far superior game

  • Comment number 48.

    The ball is clearly making for a poor viewing spectacle, the number of misplaced and overhit crosses and shots are enough proof for any viewer.

    It is ironic how Blatter refuses goal line technology to maintain the simplicity of the game and then introduces a new technologically enhanced ball... quite obviously this is driven by commercial factors.

    Gloops, van Persie was trying to avoid a second yellow for playing on after the whistle, the ref was not that far away, nothing to do with the Vuvuzelas, we all know van Persies habit of conning refs.

  • Comment number 49.

    Ever since the tournament was expanded to 32 teams, the first round of group games has always been boring. I think there are 3 main reasons this year - fear of losing, a long hard season for most players and a ball that only the Germans had the foresight to use competitively beforehand. Fear of losing is, I think, the biggest factor - especially with a number of very low ranked teams who do not want to be humiliated so get everyone behind the ball. Having said that, I still can't work out why teams like Slovakia were so cagey - you'd think they'd have worked out, as Uruguay did last night, the best way to beat a low-ranked team is to attack them. Still been some enjoyable games though, and Germany were very impressive. The rest of the tournament should be better as it effectively becomes knock out from here for most groups - win and you're through, lose and you go home...

  • Comment number 50.

    What I don't understand is why FIFA keep doing this. They did the same thing at the last World Cup. I thought that the World Cup was to show off the best players and nations in the world. That it was to be a celebration of football. Outside the getting money from sponsors I can't see anywhere that changing the equipment so that players need to get used to it in the early stages makes sense.

    You wouldn't see the NFL change the ball for the playoffs or the SuperBowl. If FIFA want an official World Cup ball it should be used for all the qualifying matches as well.

  • Comment number 51.

    Completely agree with 22. At 01:26am on 17 Jun 2010, Sewelly.

    I have watched every minute of this World Cup so far and having watched them since 1970 can say without fear of contradiction that this by far the dullest World Cup ever.

    The Ball is shocking - I havnt seen so many poor passes, poor crosses and poor shots in any football tournament before.

    Interesting that the Germans got the ball for a whole year in the Bundeliga and they are the only team to look convincing with it and that Adidas are German. FIFA need to explain.

    The Vuvuzelas are an unnecessary monatone bore, If you want cultural enlightment watch BBC2.

    The Sout Africans appear to have took this tournament right to its heart but I fear with everthing so expensive to them that the moment they go out [which is ever likely given last nights result] that will end.

    Even more worrying is that the diving culture has remained and now progressed to the next stage where any player touched even slightly falls to the ground as if shot by a sniper.

    Officials have been poor and inconsistent.

    The TV coverage is average but the studio analysis is awful. Most pundits fail to understand the hand ball rule and most laughably last nights 2nd goal [the incident leadung to the penalty] should have been given offside. When the original pass was made the Uruguayan ultimately fouled was onside. However, the millions paid on expensive kit and analysts salaries failed to pick up the fact that another Uruguayan flicked the ball on making the player fouled offside.

    TVs invited guests [both channels] are dull.

    I have been a keen football follower all my life. Thank goodness my friends have got me watching cricket and golf. By comparison they now have much more to offer.

  • Comment number 52.

    'I don't see how using a poor quality ball makes FIFA more money than using a normal one.'

    I was talking more generally, the ball is just one facet of it. Read around, do some research. Here's a good article..

  • Comment number 53.

    Lets all slash our wrists then shall we?

    Well you can i'm going to hang around for the rest of the tournament, which is not boring and as always will get better each day.

    If you dont like it watch corrie on the other side.

  • Comment number 54.

    Yes, hopefully the tournament has turned the corner but, so far, could not agree more, it is certainly the most boring World Cup ever. I am astonished to read that the German Bundesliga have used this new Jabulani ball for one full season prior to this tournament, whereas everyone else is new to it. Is this really fair FIFA? I think not.
    My final comment is on the vicious swipe at England by Franz Beckenbauer. The old boy must have felt left out of things because nobody had mentioned him up to now, so he had to dream up something. England only lost one game in the qualifying phase, won the rest, so if that's "kick and rush", I'll take it! Kaiser Franz, sadly, is not growing old gracefully; he won few friends with this latest piece of silliness.

  • Comment number 55.

    Have faith. It's round one, and the tournament will get more exciting. It has to be said though that in the past games were played in the evening, when people weren't at work, which made for more exciting viewing. There weren't vuvuzelas drowning out the fans as well. I think games at 12.30 and 3pm mean lots of people are in work mode and can't really get into the games that are on, which makes them seem boring.

    I remember watching Italy v Brazil in the 0-0 final of 1994 and thinking it was a very exciting game even without goals. Lots of "almosts".

  • Comment number 56.

    OK, go England. "Kick, and chase" and the World cup will become interesting. Mmmh! I watched all of England's world cup qualifiers and friendlies, not a single flair game from England. And who's whining now? England.

  • Comment number 57.

    The reason why it has been so boring is the vuvuzela. It has killed the atmosphere in games. Many fans get the feeling that something is missing without being able to put a finger on it, and the answer is the crowd noise. It's gone!

  • Comment number 58.

    To say it plainly: Have you heard Chile, or Switzerland, or South Korea, or Germany, or Ghana....complain about the ball, the vuvu, the altitude, the oxygen levels, the winter? Noooo!!! Who is complaining? France, England, and their losing companions.

  • Comment number 59.

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain.

  • Comment number 60.

    Blaming the ball again! O dear! A poor workman blames his tools! Whatever next? They will start blaming the tightness of their shorts again!

  • Comment number 61.

    Nonsense, some of the best games are nil-nil. It's only Americans that think you must have lots of goals for excitement.

    Each team's first game is often a drab affair as no one wants to lose and a draw is acceptable. The 2nd and third games for each team are far more interesting as pressure mounts to get a positive result.

    If the tournament is boring (and I don't think it is), then it is down to the fact that that the tuneless horns drown out the crowd. You can rarely hear cheering and no songs.

  • Comment number 62.

    Trying to justify your salary by writing rubbish again David?

  • Comment number 63.

    What utter rubbish. It's a round object. How much different can it be. Would you lot put your brain into gear before you accept the rubbish you hear. It's a ball. Look at any ball , even a ball of socks, and you can juggle it bounce it and do what you want with it. You are telling me that multimillionares suddenly can no longer hit a ball correctly. As for the world cup being boring, it's only the English who are saying so.

  • Comment number 64.

    If you're looking for goals then, as I've said in the past, make them part of the scoring system.

    Make a win worth 2 points with a bonus point for every 2 goals clear, and you'll see an upward swing in scoring as well as making the groups more volatile.

    Many first games would, instead of being cagey must-not-lose-affairs, be about doing your level best to put the other team to the sword.

  • Comment number 65.

    So far it's the lowest scoring World Cup ever. In fact from the stats the goal scoring has decreased since the 1950s.
    Maybe teams are more equal? Or maybe the standard of the goalkeeping has improved? One thing for sure the average height for goal keepers has increased from 5'7'' in the 30s to over 6' today. Maybe its time to literally move the goal posts, nothing too dramatic say 6 inches either side and the height by a couple?

  • Comment number 66.


    The Germans seem quite happy with it.

    "A bad workman always blames his tools"

  • Comment number 67.

    Very boring. Especially so because I'm watching with the sound turned off.

  • Comment number 68.

    The main reason seems to me is that coaching and fitness are so advance, that teams play to their defensive shape and tracking back that leaves little room for attacking football and individual player flair.

    Perhaps its time to look again at the rules and for example only have off side apply inside the penalty areas.

  • Comment number 69.

    Danny Jordaan has stated that he will seriously consider a ban on vuvuzelas the moment one lands on the pitch. I'm thinking of visiting South Africa, buying a vuvuzela and......

  • Comment number 70.


  • Comment number 71.

    The phrase - ' a bad workman blames his tools' springs to mind. Over paid Prima Donna's who never deliver...

  • Comment number 72.

    I too am disappointed by some of the let-down performances in the first round, but I think most people are confusing correlation with causation: just because a new ball has been introduced (like every WC) and there have been cagey offensive performances, we assume that the ball is the cause. This is a juvenile, knee-jerk response. If it really was the worst ball in history, the Germans probably couldn't have put on a clinic in their win over Australia, even if they had a year to get used to it. Uruguay showed that they could adapt and string beautiful passes together in their second match - Forlan was awesome. Spain, though they couldn't score against the Swiss, hardly ever mis-hit a pass.

    One topic that hasn't been explored here, however, is the way Italy won the WC in 2006: grinding out defensive-minded wins. Could it be that other coaches have cottoned on this playing style? The Swiss and North Koreans showed that a well-organized defense can withstand pressure from the best offensive teams. Even Gerrard said that it's most important 'not to lose' your opening match. Maybe teams are just trying to win it like Italy did last time. I hope not...

  • Comment number 73.

    well, we might not have had many goals in the first round of matches, but we've already had 3 in the second set of fixtures after just one game. The quality of football on display yesterday was far higher and it gives me confidence that the tournement will improve from here on in.

    Regarding the ball - I have no doubt that it has SOME effect (and I don't think that effect will last with more solid practice), but I've said it before on the forums and i'll say it again - BRING THE BALL IN AT THE START OF QUALIFYING, NOT THE START OF THE TOURNEMENT - you'd eliminate the rustiness with the new ball, you'd have player input into how it reacts and you'd have one less thing to be able to complain about during the World Cup

  • Comment number 74.

    #68 - Furzdonny - That's a poor excuse. It's the same in domestic leagues around the world. Chelsea got a few pretty massive results this season and there was no shortage of goals in the premier league as a whole.

  • Comment number 75.

    I'm not sure in what way the vuvuzela is integral to South African culture? In 'The Great Escape' all Steve McQueen's character had to keep him sane in the cooler was a baseball and glove. When Nelson Mandela was imprisoned did he pass the hours blowing on his vuvuzela?

    Not according to Danny Jordaan who has said,

    "I would prefer singing. It's always been a great generator of a wonderful atmosphere in stadiums and I would try to encourage them to sing."

    "In the days of the struggle (against apartheid) we were singing, all through our history it's our ability to sing that inspired and drove the emotions."

    Not blowing a plastic trumpet then.

  • Comment number 76.

    My single biggest irritation is the deliberate deception of the referee by players that fall down under the slightest of contact. The game is so focussed on dead-ball situations it seems to me that goals from open play are becoming a rarity.

    Last night's game was not exciting. The atmosphere at the games has been dire and this is the worst world cup I have seen thus far...and I am old!

  • Comment number 77.

    The biggest disapppointment for me is the atmosphere.

    When a national anthem has finished, I want to hear cheers and clapping from their support - not the re-start of the hooting noises.

    When a goal is scored, I want to hear cheering and singing, not an increase in hooting noises.

    When the half time and full time whistles blow, I want to hear ....

    You get the idea

  • Comment number 78.

    WHAT TOSH. This thing about the ball 'swerving' is rubbish. Balls swerve unless your foot connects with them at the pinpoint perfect spot and that very rarely happens.

    The sensationalists and whiners have been very quick to condemn this new ball and we seem to have suddenly foorgotten how the previous ball really did move. By 'move' I am referring to how a ball when kicked would spiral in its forward trajectory. This wasn't anything to do with the kicking action, though it would be greater the harder you kicked it, but from the construction of the ball itself. The weaker ball wall and stitching technique caused the ball to wobble when in flight and hence, produce a spiral motion. Has everyone conveniently forgotten the goalies bemoaning these balls as being much more difficult to predict.??

    So, the new ball is far better becuase it goes where it is kicked. The truth is, that the ball is less forgiving now and the slightest poor kick will result in the ball swerving. So, we will get to see who is in form and who isn't pretty soon :)

  • Comment number 79.

    Perhaps if the players could hear the crowds reaction to their efforts instead of the steady drone, they themselves would be lifted into playing better football. It must affect them as much as it does the home watching supporters. Every team is playing an away game except S.A. as no team can hear its own supporters.

  • Comment number 80.

    A Ball a ball , my bat for a proper ball , I would like to start a campaign to call the fans of world football together and SUE FIFA for spoiling our World Cup 2010 .
    Because let's face it when the stars of football players and managers alike are complaining about the unpredicdability of the ball is ruining the beautiful game , we shouldn't sit back and just let it go on .
    We have a voice we pay the wages , we pay to watch the games , we buy the products , dare i mention vuvuzela for the kids back home ?
    We deserve better , the knobs at FIFA and Addidas want stringing up , for messing about with the ball .
    Come fans of the world stand up and show your disgust at these greedy bar-stewards because you know why the ball was altered dont you ? No , well I'll tell you one word >> MONEY . fILTHY lucca !
    I rest mt case , Yours ScouseAde .

  • Comment number 81.

    Mr Bond from the BBC , hear my words , can the mighty BBC do anything at this disgraceful act of playing about with the match ball and spoiling our world cup ? I hope so .
    Yours ScouseAde.

  • Comment number 82.

    The lack of goals is one reason for the tournament being boring but the main problem is that games do not change dynamic. In all of the games so far if a team has gone 1-0 up they have not lost!

    The most exciting games are when the dynamic shifts between the teams, the most exciting thing has been a last minute equaliser for New Zealand.


  • Comment number 83.

    After the 1970 world cup, which was also the first one we could watch in colour, they've all been pretty boring.

    Even Engerland were good back then, particularly because of Gordon Banks who with his anticipation of the future was the nearest thing I've ever seen to a Jedi Knight.

    Nowadays, as with the rugger, it's all about the munny.

  • Comment number 84.

    The ball is a problem clearly. The problem being only a handful of teams have had long enough to use it. The number of shots ballooning over the bar is ridiculous and eventually will mean teams trying to walk it into the net rather than shoot from distance.
    FIFA have become an organisation that is more interested in making money than providing a framework to showcase the nest footballers on the planet. All the headlines have been about the ball, the beer company, ticket sales etc etc all about money and commercial partners. The ball problem is because they sell the rights to a specific ball manufacturer which means a vast number leagues cannot use it. Surely its time for FIFA to have an independent manufacturer/designer whos design can then be made/reproduced by all brands, meaning the Premier League could use the World Cup ball just as much as the Bundesliga can.

  • Comment number 85.

    In my opinion, blaming the ball for boring games is rubbish and it really surprises me to read something like this on the BBC website. Had England won their first game 3:1 nobody, I mean NOBODY would complain about the ball. So what do you do once your first match did not meet the expectations? Apparently the most convenient way is to blame it on the ball, the weather, the Vuvuzelas... give me a break! The lads on the English team (I am German) are without doubt among the best footballers in the world, so they should be able to play with ANY ball out there. So come on England, stop complaining and show the world what the three lions can do.

    The main reasons for rather dull first matches were already said by people before: 1. More than ever, no team wants to lose the first game 2. Former "B-class" teams (USA, Uruguay, Switzerland...) have improved a lot in recent years.

    Things will get a lot more interesting in the knock-out stage.

  • Comment number 86.

    62. medianonsense

    Absolutely right.

    This blog has been getting on my nerve ever since it began. Even when expressing an opinion that may be valid, the blogger does it with such half-heartedness that it's impossible to take him seriously.

  • Comment number 87.

    In modern football (esp in the Premier League) the first goal is so important and against organised defences it often comes from set pieces. Free kicks and corners have been poor in this tournament with most overhit so there is definitley something different with the technique needed with this new ball that most players haven't adapted to yet. The German and French leagues have used the new ball for a year but due to the commercial deal with Nike the Premier League couldn't switch.

    As for the atmosphere I agree with a lot of the posters about the effect of the vuvezlas. The problem is they are blown non-stop rather than at key moments to build the atmosphere, hence the traditional atmosphere of the noise levels going up for exciting moments is not heard. This combined with the underwhelming performance up to now of the African sides (with the Bafana bafana in real danger of becoming the first hosts eliminated in the group stage) may make the atmosphere change at the later stages.

    On a positive note though the performances up to now of the Asian teams have been very encouraging and I think shows FIFA were right to take the World Cup to Asia in 2002 to help strengthen football in that region. It's taken investment from their respective football associations as well but we could well be seeing it's fruit now. Who would have thought that after 44 years Englishmen would still be cheering on North Korea in a match?!

  • Comment number 88.

    Remember the impact that the altitude here will have on the ball. The ITF recognises that altitude will change the performance characteristics of tennis balls and allows the use of high altitude balls above 4,000ft. JHB sits at over 5,700ft.

    I suspect the the Jabulani doesn't have different versions to take this into account.

    Let's see how England do at sea level on Friday and Germany up here on the Highveld next week.

  • Comment number 89.

    What will this world cup be remembered for?
    The silly noise or the silly ball?

    It is very obvious that all players outside of the Bundesliga are struggling to control the new ball. Sadly 99.9% of quality players do not participate in the Bundesliga. Luckily for Germany's national squad non of their players are good enough to be bought by the most successful European clubs. Therefore all their players have been left in the bumbling Bundesliga and able to experience the new ball since February.

    The French and Argentine leagues have also been using the new ball, but we must remember that nearly all French and Argentine national players do not play in their home league. Again this means the only team who has had practice with the new ball is Germany.

    As the condition of the ball has changed, Germans like Franz Anton Beckenbauer now feel free to mouth off and pretend Germany has talent. But after this world cup I doubt any managers from the big European clubs will be chasing German players for contracts? Why? Because the Germans remain utterly talentless.

    As the design of the ball has changed, it can no longer be defined as a "football".

    Perhaps we can call this freakball. Yes it's FIFA's freakball world cup 2010!

  • Comment number 90.

    Worst World Cup ever - decided after 5 days! A another example of the ever increasing sensationlist media and us the public, lapping up every word.

    The ball isnt the problem, its the state of mind of coaches and players. If you believe the ball is the problem, than it will be. These guys are at the top level of their sport are you telling me they cannot control a football. It feels like some coaches and players are already getting their excuses out ready.

    The problem is that in the 1st games the over-riding attitude was not to lose, even Brazil set their stall out not to lose, hence why the games have not produced a lot and people are blaming other factors such as the ball and the horns are distracting play which is another ridiculous argument.

    Uruguay's 3-0 win yesterday was down to a more attcking mindset as they came out with more intent.

    I think the next phase of games will be better as now teams are forced to come out of their shells, as another draw will put teams under severe pressure for the final group game.

  • Comment number 91.

    Not sure what all the fuss is about, it's the World Cup and I'm loving every minute of it.

  • Comment number 92.

    Quality is down because the twelfth man, that most important of players, has been neutralised, rendered inaudible and impotent. The idea that vuvuzelas are South African culture is risible, as cultural as Japanese knotweed is to Japan. South African stadiums artificially introduced them as stadium-fillers. They spread through the stadia like cane toads through Queensland, a monoculture that kills supporter chants, cheering, the sudden intake of breath that accompanies a feat or a close miss, any register of fans' support for their teams. Saddest of all, we hear none of the glorious music of Africa, South America and Europe that accompanies our teams and which we surely, naively, were hoping for. Players cannot be lifted or crushed by the joy or anger of thousands of fans, they simply look bewildered. Let's hope they start to get used to playing in what is no better than an empty stadium.

  • Comment number 93.

    Please give up on the goals rubbish.

    This world cup is not the most boring ever, it is the most competitive, but then I wouldnt expect a BBC pundit to realise that.

    My God the level of reporting from you lot have dropped massively over the last 12 months.

  • Comment number 94.

    Very boring. Especially so because I'm watching with the sound turned off.


    Why? Got a problem with your telly?

    I bought a new one recently for £100 that had a dodgy volume switch......but at that price I couldn't turn it down.

  • Comment number 95.

    Excuses excuses. There is nothing wrong with the ball, the Germans seemed to control it perfectly and were happy with it. Why ? With typical German thoroughness they have been playing with it in their league for months. As for the rest of the world - 0h!, we got a different ball - DUH !

  • Comment number 96.

    ChrisJkt quote: "About vuvuzelas, if the WC is hosted by Scottland will you ask the audiences not to blow bagpipes because the noise is annoying? It's called world cup for a reason, and if you want a venue with plain and dull atmosphere, why not make one in the north pole and we can watch nations play there every 4 years."

    Bagpipes are banned by FIFA! As are air horns or any other instrument likely to cause nuisance or disturbance to other fans. And, basically, a vuvuzela is an air horn operated by the human lungs rather than a gas cannister.

    Many predicted that the vuvuzela would spoil the World Cup and called for it to be banned - only last minute appeals by SA preventing FIFA from doing so. (In the Confederation Cup, USA players believed that it cost them a win against Brazil as they were unable to communicate between players and so organise properly their defence.)

    When the South African team arrived at the stadium last night, and as they walked down the tunnel, they were singing their hearts out and it was great to hear. Then, they walk out onto the pitch: Paaaaarrrrrrrppppppppppppppppppppppppp!

    Honestly, where is the joy, fun and celebration in that sound? It's a bullying, deafening monotone which is meant to intimidate and silence the opposition - and is not in the spirit of the World Cup at all.

    ChrisJkt claims the anti-vuvuvezela brigade want a "plain and dull atmosphere"... that is the exact opposite of what we want and is, in fact, what the cacophony of the vuvuzela is giving us.

    We want to hear singing, cheering and chanting. We want to hear the oohs and aahs generated by the excitement of the action.

    They say that a movie is only as good as it's soundtrack - well the 'movie' of this world cup is one, long blaring fart.

  • Comment number 97.

    Strange how england, a team sponsored by Umbro, which is owned by Nike, is complaining about a ball made by Adidas. Serbia who complained, also have their kits made by Nike, Algeria - Puma and slovenia by Nike.

    It's also a complete red herring. The ball is the same for every team in the tournament. If it made that much difference to the game, that ball would have been used months ago in practice by every team.

  • Comment number 98.

    Of the 32 teams, I count 9 who have decided to play defensive anti-football. That has to be a record and on its own accounts for the relative dullness of the football in htis WC.

  • Comment number 99.

    This is just the sort of cynical and rubbish article I have come to expect from the media. You've all spent years hyping up this event and when it doesn't live up to the hype YOU'VE all created you start knocking it down again. The tournament has been going for one week. Get a grip. If you're not all complaining about vuvuzelas in a paternalistic and colonialist manner then you're all saying it's dull. This tournament has raised the prestige of Africa showing that they are just as capable as anyone else of putting on a world class event. It has also delivered some interesting surprises which will increase in importance over the next week. Lighten up for god's sake.

  • Comment number 100.

    Argument for the ball: Yes Adidas 'produced' this ball but it was designed at Loughborough University as were the 2006 World Cup and 2008 Euro Championship balls.

    "Loughborough University were exclusive research partners for the adidas “JABULANI”, after previously developing the 2008 European Championship and 2006 World Cup footballs for adidas. The ball has already been tested and endorsed by a number of world-class international players, including Frank Lampard, Michael Ballack, Petr Cech and Kaka. "

    Argument for the "atmosphere": Yes the noise is annoying over the television and a few players have mentioned it is loud. However, when you see images of the crowds, they're positively bouncing and singing and chanting. The atmosphere IN the stadiums appears to be electric but sadly that just doesn't translate in the audio to your television.

    Why is this World Cup so 'poor': Overhyped expectations combined with a negative attitude where people want to find the down side to everything instead of trying to find the positives. The media seems to only focus on negative stories and attitudes. How about more interviews with those players that have scored their first world cup goals to get a sense of the passion and pride?

    BBC - Please just focus on the positive stories and bring the real story of the World Cup over from South Africa and not the grumpy "It's not like this at home" rubbish.


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