Archive for September, 2007

Soccer technology

Posted on September 30, 2007. Filed under: Technology | Tags: , , , , |

Ever wondered about the amount of technology that goes into soccer? I’ve always known that many products have a lot of technology and research involved, from the high quality leathers and synthetics on modern shoes to the latest innovations in ball design and testing. But I decided to have a good look into these technologies starting with soccer balls.

Historically (based on references and legend), early balls ranged from human heads, stitched up cloth, animal and human skulls to pig or cow bladders! Glad that’s not the case anymore!!

Before vulcanised rubber, balls were made from inflated pig bladders. This made the shape very irregular so you can imagine how hard it was to curl in a well-placed free-kick. In 1855 the first rubber soccer ball was made and we were on the path to our modern soccer balls.

Even though the English FA created the rules to the game in 1863, it wasn’t until 1872 that they agree on a size for the ball and the fact that it had to be spherical! It’s interesting to note that a weight was also given and that has basically remained the same until now.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s it was the type of the leather and how well it was sewn that decided the quality of the ball. As time went on, the construction of the panels allowed for a rounder ball but the problem with these leather balls was that they became water-logged and were painful to head due to the stitching. Eventually coatings and paints as well as better valves were introduced to reduce some of these problems.

In the 60s, synthetic balls were introduced but not until the 80s did they fully replace leather balls because initially they were less predictable in flight. In the 86 world cup, the “Azteca” ball was the first polyurethane ball used. It was great in the wet and very resistant to wear. The 90 WC ball was the “Etrvsco” and it introduced the black, internal neoprene foam which kept the ball water-tight.

In 94, the “Questra” had a layer of polystyrene foam that reportedly made it more water-tight, allowed greater acceleration when kicked and allowed better ball control. World cup 98 saw the famous “Tricolore” ball introduced, the first coloured ball (using the french flag’s colours). It had a newer type of foam that made it even softer and faster than the Questra. The “Fevernova” was the ball of the 2002 WC finals and was made up of 11 foam layers! Apparently this was to increase the ball’s accuracy when in flight. The technology reduced that amount of energy absorbed by the ball, rather it increased the rebound effect for higher velocities. The ball was small and heavy (the lower and upper FIFA limits respectively) as this made it more accurate.

It was a fast ball but was very controversial. Top players like Buffon, Rivaldo, Roberto Carlos and Edmilson criticised it. It was said that it felt too bouncy and light and it soared too far when kicked. Only Beckham has good things to say about it’s accuracy but sponsorship by Adidas may have biased his opinion a tad 🙂

Finally 2006 saw the unveiling of the TeamGeist ball for Germany. The amazing new panel shape was designed to reduce the number of corners and panels (14 panels instead of 32 for the usual buckyball type soccer balls). The ball is rounder as there are less seams and this improves accuracy. A patented Thermal Bonding process makes the new ball almost completely waterproof with identical performance characteristics wet or dry. It’s astounding that it only absorbs 0.1% of it’s weight in water (compare that to FIFA’s guidelines allowing a maximum of 10%!).

All of the information here was summarised from soccerballworld. Check out the site, there’s much more info there (especially about the history and about the Teamgeist).

There is also info about the euro 04 ball, the “Roteiro”. I found it pretty amusing because it had a statement from Beckham that read as follows…
“The most important thing for me is to know that I can rely on the ball to go exactly where I want it to go. The new Roteiro reacts very well to my foot. When I’ve helped adidas to test the Roteiro in Madrid, I’ve noticed that the accuracy of my corners, my passing and, of course, my free kicks improved from using this ball. When you’re kicking it, it even sounds better. No one has ever seen anything like this before. I think it is great to kick and it’s going to be a great ball to play with. Keepers are going to have a very tough time.”
Should’ve practised those penalty kicks a bit better hey Dave?

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Julio Batista Wondergoal!

Posted on September 30, 2007. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , |

Check out the awesome overhead kick that finished up Real Madrid’s win over Real Betis. A very cool finish with perfect technique by Julio Baptista.

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Inter vs Roma

Posted on September 28, 2007. Filed under: Inter | Tags: |

So the hype and comments are flying as Inter and Roma prepare to do battle to decide the strongest of serie A on the weekend in an epic top of the table clash.

Roma is in blistering form and playing some of the most attractive football in all European competitions at the moment. Inter is up and down as usual but Ibrahimovic is also in blistering form and can’t seem to put a foot wrong! He is sitting at the top of the scoring charts, tied with Trezeque on 6 goals, 2 above Totti.

Inter is somewhat depleted in defense with Materazzi, Maicon and Viera out because of injuries and suspensions. It will be interesting to see what Mancini can do with the players on hand. Roma also has a few injuries to deal with so both teams will have to adjust their regular line-ups.

Roma will have the advantage of a home crowd but Inter go into the match off a 3-0 thumping of Sampadoria in the middle of the week. Hopefully it will be another classic like the 06 supercup match between the two teams…

[Video length: 1m48s]

If you’d like to see the highlights of Inter’s 3-0 waxing of Sampadoria earlier in the week, see below. A brace for Ibrahimovic and Figo magic to wrap it up.

[Video length: 2m46s]

Edit: Inter vs Roma = 4-1

You can read my brief review or just skip to the match highlights below.

The score doesn’t tell the full story but it was a convincing win by Inter over an ultimately 10-man Roma. Early on Roma were playing some good football but after Guily blatantly and intentionally handled the ball in the area to prevent a header, following a blocked shot, from going in, Roma were reduced to 10 men. Ibrahimovic calmly put away the penalty.

After that it looked like Roma were going to save themselves and hold out for a draw with Perrota leveling the score. But it wasn’t to last as the immense pressure that Inter laid on eventually cracked Roma open. First with Crespo putting away a deflected Cambiasso shot, then Cruz blasting in a long range effort and finally Cordoba headed home the final nail in the coffin.

[Video length: 3m07s]

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Highlights from Champions League 18-19th Sept 2007

Posted on September 21, 2007. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

Here are the highlights for the Tuesday (18th) matches.

and here are the highlights for the Wednesday (19th)

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Romario, the living legend

Posted on September 19, 2007. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: |

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More problems and controversy for Ronaldo

Posted on September 11, 2007. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , |

Ronaldo is in more hot water, which is probably a good thing to help heal his thigh injury which has been revealed to be more serious than initially thought.

It looks like Ronaldo will miss at least another month of action. The AC Milan medics have admitted to getting the diagnosis of his thigh injury somewhat wrong. Earlier Ronaldo’s Brazilian doctor, Jose Luis Runco, blasted the medical staff for their diagnosis and treatment. Ronaldo travelled to Antwerp to get a second opinion because his progress had stalled and since received permission to return to Rio de Janeiro to receive treatment there.

It is this very treatment that is stirring up a lot of controversy currently because of the use of gene therapy (which is banned in Italy but a-okay in Brazil! :). The Italian Olympic Committee’s anti-doping prosecutor indicated that he may open an investigation on the use of this therapy. The therapy uses a natural protein to stimulate cell proliferation and is called “growth factor” and was initially developed to treat cancer. This could be regarded as doping by the committee and would be yet another blow to Ronaldo getting things back on track! Personally I don’t see how using your own blood’s proteins to heal yourself could be doping or banned!?

If you’re actually interested in the science behind the treatment, see the video below for a good explaination.

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Brazil vs United States friendly

Posted on September 11, 2007. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: |

Quick post with the highlights of Brazil’s 4-2 win over the United States. Although the scoreline was good, the performance was still less than convincing, with Dunga not at all satisfied. At least Kaka’ and Ronaldinho were playing well (and at the same time too!). Enjoy (Length about 5mins).

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Slim Ronaldo not far away!

Posted on September 9, 2007. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: |

It seems that the main reason for Ronaldo’s weight problems over the last few years has been found. Milan labs have discovered that hypothyroidism caused him to gain a considerable amount of weight, even though you could hardly call him unfit. It seems that a strict training regime in conjunction with medication for the condition has helped him shed an extra 5kgs and he is well on track to returning to his ideal weight and hopefully, the amazing form that lead to him being known as the phenomenon.

The illness means that insufficient thyroid hormone is produced in the thyroid gland and this can cause weight gain among many other symptoms that wouldn’t have helped Ronaldo to be his best either! The spanish media and fans were ruthless in ridiculing his weight problem, calling him “el gordo” (the fatty) and constantly questioning him over it. Apparently when he arrived at the 2006 world cup training camp he was over 100kgs. Thankfully he is already appearing much more slimmed down, so the training and medication are already helping.

Unfortunately Ronaldo is still recovering from a thigh injury but Ancelotti is suggesting he should be back for the match against Sienna. I sure hope so, in the meantime, see below for what a slender Ronaldo used to be able to do and cross your fingers with me in the hopes of seeing more beautiful football.

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