March 27, 2018 / 9:00 AM / 5 months ago

Nike deal hurts England preparations with World Cup ball

(Reuters) - England appear set to play only one of their three remaining World Cup warm-up matches with the tournament ball because of the Football Association’s long-term commitment to Nike, the Times reported on Tuesday.

Soccer Football - England Training - Tottenham Hotspur Training Ground, London, Britain - March 26, 2018 England manager Gareth Southgate during training Action Images via Reuters/John Sibley

Several participating nations, including Germany and Spain, have played friendlies with the Adidas Telstar ball that will be used at the June-July tournament in Russia.

However, Gareth Southgate’s England will use the Nike Ordem V ball in the friendly against Italy at Wembley on Tuesday as part of the FA’s contract with their American apparel and ball supplier which runs until 2030.

The Times said the Ordem V ball would also be used in England’s next warm-up fixture against Nigeria on June 2 but Nike had allowed the FA to test the Adidas ball in the final friendly against Costa Rica on June 7.

It will be the only time the team will get an opportunity to play with the World Cup ball prior to their opening group match against Tunisia in Volgograd on June 18.

In order to mitigate any potential disadvantage, Southgate has given his players as much exposure as possible to the Adidas ball in training.

The difference between balls often has the biggest impact on goalkeepers, who need time to adapt to its flight and bounce.

Spanish goalkeeper David de Gea has already criticised the World Cup ball following last week’s 1-1 draw against Germany, saying it was hard to grip because it was coated with protective plastic.

Panama and Belgium are England’s other Group G opponents in Russia.

Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by John O'Brien

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