adidas expects to sell ten million official FIFA World Cup balls, but the company will not have its “smartball” in play for the event to be held in Germany next summer. Company CEO Herbert Hainer said they sold almost six million of the 2002 World Cup balls and more than six million of the 2004 European Championships balls last year. He said the 2006 World Cup Match Ball, which was unveiled Friday in Leipzig, Germany, is softer and allows better control than previous balls.

The new adidas +Teamgeist Match Ball features a new 14-panel configuration reducing the amount of three-panel touch points by 60% and the total length of the panel lines by over 15%, forming a smooth and perfectly round exterior, which is expected to give players significant improvements in accuracy and control.

“That's what most players want, particularly the South Americans,” said Hainer in comments to a German magazine last week. He said the weight and aerodynamics of the ball would remain constant throughout a game. “It's totally inured against external influences,” he said.

The FIFA General Secretary Urs Linsi told reporters earlier last week that the FIFA executive committee had decided against using the adidas smartball technology at the Club World Championship in Japan this month. The ball, which was tested at the World Under-17 Championship in Peru earlier this year, includes a microchip that enables officials to eliminate mistakes on goal-line decisions.

FIFA said it made its decision regarding the smartball system, which was developed by adidas, Cairos Technologies AG, and the German Fraunhofer Institute, because it was not yet considered a foolproof way of determining whether or not a goal has been scored.

Adidas, in a statement released prior to Friday’s unveiling of the +Teamgeist ball, confirmed that the ball would not be used at the 2006 World Cup. Hainer said it was possible that adidas could share the technology for the ball with other companies in future.

The +Teamgeist ball, which translates to team spirit in English, is an apparent extension of adidas’ major advertising push for 2006. The +10 campaign is expected to highlight the importance of the team behind the success of each player.