Craig Johnston has written a 12 page open letter to Sepp Blatter of FIFA. In the letter, Johnston slates the new Jabulani ball and explains why using it at the World Cup has been such a big mistake.

Craig Johnston Jabulani

Craig Johnston is arguably one of the forerunners of this new age of tech-obsessed football, having been the creative mind behind the adidas Predator range & X-Traxion stud systems.

So, when he talks about the technology in use in football equipment, people tend to listen; and squarely in his firing line is the adidas Jabulani World Cup football.

Now, we know we’ve done the Jabulani debate to death here at, even having you guys get involved in a poll – but Craig brings up a lot of points that we thought would give rise to some good debate. Here’s some of the best points Mr Johnston makes:

It is very alarming that the best players and teams in the world are struggling to control this ball to their own satisfaction.

What is even more alarming than the players˘€žË˜ assessment of the ‹Ĺ›bad ball˘€žË˜, however, are the statistics of'  ‹Ĺ›bad play˘€žË˜.

What this means to the quality of this tournament in South Africa is quite shocking.

The statistics are showing that is the worst passing, shooting and controlling of the ball of any World Cup in history of the competition.That cannot be ignore and it cannot be fixed up later, as we are being told.

Craig also goes on to question how many goals we’ve been denied in this tournament – even suggesting that replacing the Jabulani is more imperative that current hot-topic Goal Line Technology.

There was a furious global public reaction to Frank Lampard˘ goal against Germany that was denied by the officials.

By my calculations we have been denied at least 10 more goals that were not scored in this World Cup so far, because of the erratic and unstable flight of the Jabulani football..but nobody is jumping up and down'¦yet'¦!

Who is taking responsibility for denying us these goals and bits of magic.

To make a get a goalmouth call wrong and make a mistake happens once or twice a year.

To get the actual football itself wrong, affects every single touch, pass or shot that a player makes, in every single game..

Craig Johnston Predator football boots

The Ex-Middlesbrough & Liverpool man also offers up a solution:

From day one I have been saying that there is a simple solution and back up plan for this World Cup. You can easily apply exactly the same Jabulani ball graphics onto the traditional construction of your sponsor˘ previous Buckminster construction World Cup balls.

Two of the best footballs ever made were made by your sponsors…The Fevernova and the Tricolor Ball from the Asian World Cup and French World Cup˘ respectively'¦

The normal Buckminster construction has given us every glorious moment of football we can ever recall…

Well – when he started mentioning older adidas World Cup footballs, we couldn’t help but nod in agreement – the Fevernova was excellent!

And what about the EuroPass? In last European Championships we can’t remember any complaints!

Anyway – what do you think of Craig Johnston’s opinion on the Jabulani?

A man who really knows what he’s talking about, with some good solutions? Or an overreaction? After all, after Van Bronkhurst & Forlan’s goals last night, we’re thinking that players are finally getting the hang of the Jabulani!

You can read the full 12 page letter here: Craig Johnston’s 12 page letter about the Jabulani.

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  1. says: DaveM

    We’re talking about the best players in the world here, so they should be able to get the hang of a new ball.

    I think this is just hype to make the ball even more well know.

  2. says: fido

    agreed partly with DaveM. best players in the world and plus using soccer boots that has been design to improve touch, shooting etc

    i firmly believe players being players are just finding excuses. its always the referee or the balls or the pitch or the weather etc. its all part of the game =)

    if the Jabulani is such a burden, i be more than willing to take all of the Jabulani and use it for my own games and ensure they wont be circulated in professional matches =D

  3. says: Quaresma

    Lmao. You know how goalies are complaining about the ball moving around in the air too much. Well, there are people out there that can make the ball knuckle like that with any ball you give them. They just need excuses to account for their horrible showing at this world cup. Watching every single game in this world cup, I have never seen a pass or anything messed up because of the ball. It always comes down to human error. I think that you should all watch this video and tell me if the ball is the reason it moves erratically in the air.

  4. says: Roman

    This is so annoying, the ball is fine. Mls uses it and there have been some great goals scored with it. Johnston needs to shut up. Congrats you can bitch about something for twelve pages.

  5. says: Jose Luis

    I heard all teams playing the FIFA World Cup had a about 300 Juabulani balls since FEBRUARY to get used to the characteristics of the ball.
    Have you seen the way spanish players hit the ball across the pitch and how they receive them? It sure takes practice to know how it works but I do not think this is such a bad ball, in fact I believe that the hard ground and the very short and wet grass are an important part of how the ball performs.

  6. says: Mo

    This ball has been used for ages ahead of the World Cup, for instance in the African Nations Cup.

    Now its blamed for all sorts of things. I’ve actually played with one on several occasions and can tell you the ball is great. Shoots well, nice texture, no more swerve than expected.

    This campaign by Craig Johnston is to push him into the media again, and the players that moan are just looking for excuses. Germany, Spain and Holland seem to be doing it aright with it after all.

  7. says: Andrew

    Honestly, I have been playing with the jabulani for the last month now and I have no complaints. Its easy to measure crosses and shooting the ball is like any other, a bit lighter though, but that can be solved by simply getting your weight OVER the ball. These pro’s need to suck it up lol. There is nothing wrong with this ball

  8. says: andy

    I own this ball. It’s very easy to over hit and it’s flight is totally unpredictable. It’s cover is like a plastic ball–very shiny and slick.There have been many goals at this WC where the keepers have started to their right only to have the ball dramatically shift in mid-flight to the the left (Forlan’s goal against Holland yesterday for example). Look at all the problems players are having keeping it on frame and below the bar. It’s fun ball to play with because it’s lively and responsive, but it’s VERY different from the balls the WC players usually play with. Add in the altitude and you have this problem…i may even venture to say Green’s howler is due to the flight of the ball. Watch as it skips off the grass to a location Green was not prepared for. It’s just a very different ball.

  9. says: brian

    is this guy still working for adidas?if not, we could have a clue of why he is saying all these things.But if what he states is true, adidas should be more than concerned. Why not receiving real feedback from the players?not only have adidas athletes saying good things about the ball. At the end, they are the main actors of the story. I´d love to see adidas working on this cause despite of money, FIFA could start considering other brands´ offers (i´m pretty sure there are…) to become the official sponsor. Which would be really sad cause for me, adidas itself is one of the many things that come to my mind when I think about a WC.

  10. says: Jake

    People forget these players have been practicing with this exact ball for months now. If they can’t get the hang of it by now, it probably is an issue with the ball. I played one game with the official Jabulani and noticed no difference to regular balls. (Other than the fact it was way over-inflated)

  11. says: Colin

    “And what about the EuroPass? In last European Championships we can’t remember any complaints!”

    That was the best part of the article lol, if anyone can remember the europass/teimgeist 2 was ripped to shreds for eratic movement when it first came out. This was the first adidas ball to use the dimples on the ball which is what allows them to move more. Every ball moves like that it’s just the dimples emphasize the movement. Overall though I would say the movement is just an excuse by goalies or players for why they messed up. The only difference in playability between the jabulani and the europass/teimgeist 2 is that the jabulani is lighter and therefore is more likely to take off and go higher than expected. The best ball was not in fact the fevernova or tricolor, both balls were 32 panel designs and therefore not round. They were good balls but not great ones. The best ball is the original teimgeist used in the germany world cup, it is round, doesn’t have dimples to make it move more, and it is a proper weight so it stays as low or high as you would expect when you hit it. They reached the perfect ball and through too much fiddling I think have made it worse. Overall though I would still say that the ball is fantastic and a great piece of engineering and the players, being world class, should be able to adjust to the new ball just like they would adjust to anything.

  12. says: gino

    he doesn’t work for adidas. when he left adidas, i believe he was one of the founders of nomis, which sank a year or two ago.

    anyways the ball is crap, its not much different than kicking a balloon; the harder you kick it, even if it’s square, the more it veers.

  13. says: bob

    if you look at the raised pattern on the ball its very strange. For a ball to change direction, it must have high pressure on one end and low pressure on the other. This is how a bend works, one side has drag (high pressure) and the other is going with the air coming towards it (low pressure) as it spins. Now, if you look at the pattern on the ball, im thinking this situation with the pressure could occur with out much spin??

  14. says: Steve B

    I completely agree with him. If someone said they were going to remove the seam off a cricket ball or baseball or the fur off a tennis ball – there would be an uproar – and rightly so as it would fundamentally change the game. That’s what’s happened with this ball. It’s changing the basic aerodynamics of the ball which is obviously going to change the game and is a big deal. The grooves in the surface of the Jabulani change the way the ball moves through the air and should have had a lot more thought put into it before it was approved by FIFA. If we added wings to the ball it would fly further too but obviously that wouldn’t be a good idea. (stupid example I know :))

  15. says: matt

    I play with almost daily and can tell you that, at times, it is completely unpredictable. it’s flies off the foot great, and you can really pass and shoot with a lot of pace, but it will swerve and knuckle at any speed. although many people can do this with nearly any ball, nothing is like the jabulani. that being said, I absolutely love it, and am sure that with enough time I could learn to control it well. these players, who are the best in the world, have no reason to complain about this ball after they’ve had months to train with it. if I can shoot it from 25 without it flying 20 yards over, they definitely should

  16. says: ben

    It’s just a matter of getting used to it. I mean, use this ball for the next year or so in all leagues and try going back to the older designs. We’ll hear complaints again. “Bad play?”, practise more. We’ve already seen several players hammer in good shots like van Bronckhorst against Uruguay , Forlan’s free-kick against Ghana, Suarez’s curler against Korea Republic so why this unnecessary debate? In my opinion, they are trying to justify England’s, Argentina’s or Italy’s unglamorous exits by blaming the ball.

  17. says: Tier

    Is the jabluani really that different to the previous WC ball? In my opinion no, and i’ve played with both of them… Both get an unpredictable swerve when hit quite hard and on the right spot… The teams are just looking for an excuse for exiting so early and in such way. van bronckhorsts shot almost didn’t swerve at all, that shot proved that one can control the ball, it’s just a new skill 🙂

  18. says: NP9

    Actually, Forlan will get the hang of every ball ahead, such long distance kicks again and again are not coincidence!

  19. says: Connor Wallace

    @Colin: The dimples actually are to make the ball travel straighter, Pumas been doing it to their balls for a while, and golf balls were there before there was science behind it. But you bring up a great point about the 32-panel ball not being perfectly round.

    however since select moved us to the 32 panels pattern, all balls were made the same way for more than 50 years. while the new balls may be flying straighter, everyone and their grandmother has been using a 32 panel ball until 2006 so we are used to how that ball design will fly, roll, and reacts.

    another issue is the weight of the ball. these newer balls seem to lighter which makes it knuckle more. if you have a golf ball and a ping-pong ball handy, chuck them both across the room and see which flies straighter.

    i believe that the panels and these grip and groove things (which with their erratic shape probably add to the problem) are not going to help the sport at this point. i love that adidas is furthering technology for the sport but at this point we should stick with something consistant until the next thing is perfected. on at least somewhat agreed upon.

  20. says: Colin

    @Connor: I realize the dimples are supposed to make it go straighter but they seem to do the exact opposite. This may have something to do with the weight you speak of but I think the dimples sort of help it catch the air if you know what I mean. There were no troubles with the movement of the original teimgeist, which was both heavier than the two new balls and had no dimples. The teimgeist is clearly the best ball ever made and why adidas feels the need to change it every year is beyond me.

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