Is it too early to start getting excited about Euro 2008 yet? I’m going to pre-emptively say “no” to that and kick off (what will initially be sporadic) coverage of this summer’s jamboree in Austria & Switzerland. We’ll be going through everything that you need to know about this tournament on here over the next four months or so, and I will even be keeping my mentions of England not being there down to an absolute minimum. After all, who cares about England, anyway? Anyway, I thought I’d kick off in a strangely appropriate way by being simultaneously four months early and two months late with a quick look at the ball that they will be using this summer.
Launched on December the third, the Adidas Europass (or, as the press release that accompanied it would have it, “The Adidas “EUROPASS” – the match ball with goose-bumps for UEFA Euro 2008″) is, if nothing else, a departure from the standard conventions of the match ball, even if its look throws a deliberate nod back to a more innocent age. Adidas, predictably, are bullish about its look:
“Its classic colouring a white base colour with black dots – calls to mind the balls of bygone decades”
There is an element of truth in this – most notably the Telstar, which was the ball used at the 1970 World Cup (although what the link is between Euro 2008 and the 1970 World Cup is remains a mystery – I rather suspect that there isn’t one). Adidas, thankfully, scaled down the original tournament logo from the over-bearingly large one on this prototype, and the result is actually a fairly elegant looking design. The black dots (which were first introduced in the 1960s to make balls more visible on black and white television sets, fact fans) contain the following:
“Individual graphic elements developed by UEFA to accompany the EURO logo. These elements stand for passion, friendship, action, training, fans and the winning goal”
I suspect that the ninety-nine percent of us who don’t end up peering at a Europass through a jeweller’s eye-piece are unlikely to notice this. I have to say (and, yes, it does surprise me – regular readers will be more than aware that I have a tendency to fear change in this respect) that I do quite like the look of this ball. After “champagne” coloured footballs and the lacklustre looking “Teamgeist” (which blighted the last World Cup with its mediocre appearance), it’s pleasing to see that Adidas have designed something that is, at least from a distance, relatively understated looking and pleasing on the eye.
The “goose-bumps” that Adidas refer to are arguably more contentious. They are small dimples covering its surface, which Adidas claim will allow for “Exceptional ball control… and for the goalkeeper too, a much better grip between glove and ball, substantially improving his catching of the ball”. These dimples leave it looking a little bit that readers in their thirties might remember their schools having in vast quantities for PE lessons. I can certainly see their value for goalkeepers – it will be, for them, a little like playing with a ball which is constructed if the same material for their gloves. The press release does, however, make worrying mention of “increased swerve”, so whether the goalkeepers will actually be able to get any contact on the ball in the first place is open to some degree of scepticism. Still, that’s a consideration for the players. It’s not champagne coloured or bright orange and (as far as I’m aware) it won’t be fitted with a chip that plays an MP3 of someone shouting “IT’S BLATTER TIME!” every time someone scores, so I’m happy enough with it.