Dunga hits back at FIFA criticism of ball protests

Dunga hits back at FIFA criticism of ball protests

Published Jun. 3, 2010 2:54 p.m. ET

Brazil coach Dunga on Thursday defended his players after their complaints about the World Cup ball were criticized by FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke.

Valcke suggested two days ago that the Brazilians were using the ball as an excuse in case of failure, but Dunga dismissed the opinion as that of a "guy who never kicked the ball."

"He needs to play," Dunga said. "If he played with the ball he would have a different opinion. He is a guy who never got on the field. I want him to be here in our practice and we will give him the ball to see if he can control it."

Marcus Hahnemann, the American goalkeeper, on Thursday became the latest player to criticize the Jabulani ball, arguing it is too light and allows too much spin.


Valcke, however, said Tuesday that the ball is going to be used at the World Cup regardless.

"It's a ball which is used by a number of teams, it's months now since the ball has been put in the market by Adidas," Valcke said. "And is it Brazil that says that because they are afraid that they will not make it and it will be due to the ball. We will see."

A number of Brazilian players have complained about the ball. The striker Luis Fabiano called it "weird" and the goalkeeper Julio Cesar compared it unfavorably to those bought at supermarkets.

Dunga added that, "It wasn't only the Brazilians who complained. Other very successful players are also complaining."

The Italy keeper Gianluigi Buffon said the Jabulani's "trajectory is really unpredictable," Spain's Iker Casillas claimed the balls were in an "appalling condition," and Hahnemann questioned the motivation behind the ball's development.

"Technology is not everything," said Hahnemann, who plays his club football with English Premier League team Wolverhampton Wanderers. "Scientists came up with the atom bomb, doesn't mean we should have invented it."

Adidas has said it was surprised to hear the criticism because the new ball has been used for months without detractors. "We started using it in December in a wide variety of leagues," company spokesman Thomas van Schaik told The Associated Press on Monday. "All the response we have had has been positive."

Valcke said: "The people are saying it's a ball to score goals. It was the same in 2006; they called the ball the flying ball."

Adidas traditionally launches new balls for each World Cup, and they have often caused controversy because of the variations in flight.

Most of the time the ball becomes harder for goalkeepers to handle, but this time the ball also appears to be causing problems to outfield players.

Yet Dunga addressed the bottom line. "This is the ball we have and we will have to adapt to it," he said.