What a Load of Balls

We’re all delighted England have made it to the World Cup, and some of us may even be looking forward to a summer holiday on the beaches of Rio. However, as always there is tremendous pressure for Roy’s men to perform, but their preparations could be scuppered by kit sponsors Nike.

What a Load of Balls

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December 13th, 2013

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Those who have read my previous articles will know of my grievances towards the amount of money in football. The Premier League now has more sponsors than they probably know what to do with, and kit deals are worth tens of millions of pounds. This seems to be no different at International level, with England announcing earlier in the year a new £25 million kit deal with Nike, replacing the longstanding Umbro, who coincidentally had been sold by Nike last year.

This kit deal also involved the use of Nike’s own brand of footballs at England home matches, which was great because these are the balls that England players use week in week out in the Premier League. You may think it’s only a football, but with the technology that is now packed into match-day balls, they can vary greatly across different brands.

World Cup footballs have always been a bone of contention for national sides, and England are no different. In the 2010 World Cup, then-England boss Fabio Capello was unhappy with the Jabulani ball that FIFA’s partner Adidas had developed, saying its unpredictable flight paths turned games into a lottery.

FIFA has continued its partnership with Adidas, creating the colourful Brazuca ball. Adidas have aimed to avoid controversy this time, with the Brazuca being the most tested football ever made, and has already been praised by a number of top players including Barcelona’s Dani Alves. The FA this week received a consignment of the Adidas-made balls, however due to their £25-million-a-year Nike deal, they are unable to use them in public.

This seems absolutely outrageous that we should sacrifice our performance at the world’s biggest tournament because of some money. Admittedly a lot of money, but even so, surely our players should get the same opportunity to practice with the Brazuca as the rest of the countries? An FA spokesman stated “The FA will discuss detailed preparation plans with Nike in due course, and come up with a mutually agreeable arrangement.”

But should there even need to be a discussion? Even if you don’t think England will win the World Cup, why should we put ourselves at even more of a disadvantage? It really shows the ridiculousness of money within football that A) We have a kit deal worth £25-million-a-year and B) We’re not able to use a different kind of football because of that kit.

Has the world gone mad? It would appear so.

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