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Could a $170 high-tech soccer ball be a reason for so many spectacular goals at the 2024 European Championship?

The Adidas FUSSBALLLIEBE – which means “love of football” in German – and the official match ball of the European Championship lie on the pitch before a Group A match between Germany and Hungary at the 2024 European Football Championship on June 19, 2024 in Stuttgart.

The Adidas FUSSBALLLIEBE – which means “love of football” in German – and the official match ball of the European Championship lie on the pitch before a Group A match between Germany and Hungary at the 2024 European Football Championship on June 19, 2024 in Stuttgart. | Photo credit: AP

With incredible goals from all directions, the 2024 European Championship has started with a bang.

Could this be thanks to a $170 high-tech soccer ball?

“If you hit him, you stay hit,” said England captain Harry Kane.

The adidas Football Ball is the official match ball of the European Championships, and players seem to have quickly mastered it, scoring a number of spectacular long-range goals.

“It’s fast,” Kane said. “For me personally, it’s better for the strikers or goal scorers than the goalkeepers, so I’m not going to complain about that.”

And the fans are not thrilled after so many spectacular goals.

For example, there was Arda Güler’s shot from around 20 meters into the top corner in Turkey’s 3-1 win over Georgia. Another example is his teammate Mert Muldur’s volley from the edge of the penalty area in the same game.

Romanian Nicolae Stanciu scored another long-range goal against Ukraine and almost scored directly after a corner kick hit the crossbar.

Xherdan Shaqiri scored a dream goal for Switzerland against Scotland, and Italian Nicolo Barella and Czech Lukas Provod also scored rockets.

“The footballs for these tournaments are not necessarily made for goalkeepers,” said Denmark goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel. “It’s a pleasure to shoot with them. You can get a good distance. They are definitely not made for the goalkeeper’s grip.”

Official tournament balls have been criticized in the past. Some players complained that the Jabulani ball from adidas for the 2010 World Cup was unpredictable.

According to UEFA, the Football Boots was designed for “accuracy and durability, supporting fast, precise play with maximum shape and air resistance.”

It is made from recycled polyester and more “sustainable bio-based materials” than the balls used in previous tournaments, including corn fiber, sugar cane and wood pulp.

The ball, reduced to $85, was sold out in Adidas’ American online store.

To what extent this contributed to goals like Güler’s wonder-strike is not clear, but clever ball-area technology helped VAR officials to nullify Romelu Lukaku’s potential late equaliser in Belgium’s surprise 1-0 defeat to Slovakia.

For the first time at a European Championship, UEFA is using connected ball technology that detects every touch of the ball and sends precise data to the video assistant referees. A chip attached to a gyroscope inside the ball sends data 500 times a second to record the time of the shot.

Combined with artificial intelligence, it can help detect offside, but in Belgium’s case it detected a borderline handball by Loïs Openda in the run-up to Lukaku’s disallowed goal in the 86th minute.

“The sensor in the adidas connected official match ball was able to accurately record the contact of the player’s hand with the surface of the ball,” UEFA said. “This was the first time that the fast and precise technology supported a referee decision during a EURO 2024 match.”

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