The official ball for the 2014 World Cup has been launched, with manufacturers adidas confident the 'brazuca' will not come in for the same level of criticism as its offering for the 2010 tournament.
In the 2010 World Cup, the 'Jabulani' ball was castigated by players — Gary Lineker on Wednesday described it on Twitter as a "hopeless effort" — and that despite adidas insisting it had been rigorously tested and endorsed by a number of international players.
The 2014 version has also been endlessly tested and widely endorsed, but the manufacturers have taken on board scientists’ suggestions that the Jabulani was too perfect a sphere which led to erratic flight.
The brazuca uses an identical bladder and carcass to the widely praised Tango 12 ball used at Euro 2012 and the Champions League official ball. There are some differences in the surface structure, including six panels rather than eight — all of which adidas says will provide improved grip and stability.
Spain's World Cup-winning goalkeeper Iker Casillas, who criticised the 2010 ball as "rotten", has endorsed the brazuca and took part in the testing.
Casillas said: “I’m looking forward to playing in Brazil with a great ball. Hopefully with brazuca we can get the same result as in 2010.”
It has already been tested at the Fifa Under-20 World Cup with a different print design, and used in a friendly match between Sweden and Argentina in February.
The word ‘brazuca’ is an informal local term meaning ‘Brazilian’, or to describe the Brazilian way of life. It was chosen after a public vote in the host country.