tampabay.com

Champs: New ball falls flat

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published June 2, 2006


WEGGIS, Switzerland - Brazil's players are having a hard time getting used to the World Cup ball.

Though sportswear giant adidas says the "Teamgeist" (Team Spirit) balls will produce unprecedented performances, the defending champions are not enjoying them so far.

"I still haven't been able to find the best way to strike this ball," defender and free-kick specialist Roberto Carlos said Thursday. "It's very light, the way they are doing it is completely different from before. It seems like it's made of plastic."

Goalkeeper Rogerio Ceni said last week the ball is very different from what players are used to. "We'll have to practice a lot to adapt to this ball," Ceni said. "It gains a lot of velocity when it's raining."

adidas contends that the Teamgeist ball is three times more accurate than its closest competitors, but does not provide data from tests conducted with its robotic leg at a laboratory in Germany.

SURPRISE VISIT:

Prince William visited England's squad and was treated to the goofy goal-celebration dance that amused the nation.

MORE SURPRISE VISITS:

FIFA doctors visited Brazil's training camp in Switzerland to conduct surprise doping tests with some players. Goalkeeper Rogerio Ceni, defender Luisao and midfielders Gilberto Silva and Juninho Pernambucano were picked randomly for the tests.

POLICE PRESENCE:

Thirty-three Czech police officers will travel to Germany next week to help out their German counterparts at the World Cup.

SPAIN ADDS ONE:

Spain called up back Mariano Pernia to its World Cup squad after FIFA gave permission to replace injured Asier Del Horno.

JAMAICA LOSES ONE:

Striker Marlon King left the team two days before a friendly with England after a disagreement with management.

SWISS FANS BANNED:

The German soccer federation banned 400 Swiss fans from the World Cup, a list submitted by the Swiss soccer federation to German authorities. Tickets won't be sold to anyone who has a history of hooliganism or is on lists submitted from around the world by soccer federations.

BRAZIL GONE WILD?:

Coach Carlos Alberto Parreira says Brazil's players are free to do whatever they want during their days off. His comments followed a local newspaper's published photos of Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos and Emerson in a nightclub after the team's 8-0 win over Swiss club FC Lucerne in a World Cup warmup Tuesday. Adriano, Robinho, Julio Cesar and Dida also were seen at the nightclub.

WARMUPS:

South Korea was held by non-qualifier Norway to 0-0 and didn't create its first scoring chance until the 70th minute. ... A second-string Netherlands rallied to beat Mexico 2-1 in a game between teams expected to reach at least the second round.