The World Cup 2006 is about to begin today, but watch out for the new
soccer ball being used for the first time for the World Cup. The new
ball has only 14 panels with fewer seams compared to the traditional
soccer ball that has either 26 or 32 panels in a hexagon pattern.
Scientists say that this change is going to “bamboozle goalkeepers”
during the game this year. The reason they believe that the new soccer
ball will cause problems is that its design resembles the aerodynamics
of a baseball. The new soccer ball when hit with a slow spin will make
it more likely to give an unpredictable trajectory when kicked in the
"With a very low
spin rate, which occasionally happens in soccer, the panel pattern
can have a big influence on the trajectory of the ball and make it
more unpredictable for a goalkeeper," said Dr Ken Bray, a sports
scientist at the University of Bath and who is also the author of
the new popular science book called “How to score – science and the
Bray continued to explain why it will be difficult for the soccer
players this year. "In baseball, pitchers often throw a 'curve ball'
which is similar to a swerving free kick and the rotating seam disrupts
the air flow around the ball in much the same way as a soccer ball does.
Occasionally though, pitchers will throw a 'knuckleball' which bobs
about randomly in flight and is very disconcerting for batters. It
happens because pitchers throw the ball with very little spin and as the
ball rotates lazily in the air, the seam disrupts the air flow around
the ball at certain points on the surface, causing an unpredictable
deflection. With the world's best players in Germany this summer, there
are bound to be plenty of spectacular scoring free kicks. But watch the
slow motion replays to spot the rare occasions where the ball produces
little or no rotation and where goalkeepers will frantically attempt to
keep up with the ball's chaotic flight path."
The new soccer
ball has already been criticized by England goal keeper Paul
Robinson and also goalkeeper Jens Lehmann for it being light-weight
and unpredictable. The new soccer ball has been used in World Cup
practice sessions. It sounds like it could be an interesting game
this year. World Cup 2006 will be broadcast on ESPN.