In 1997, Brazilian football player Roberto Carlos set up for a 35 meter free kick with no direct line to the goal. Carlos’s shot sent the ball flying wide of the players, but just before going out of bounds it hooked to the left and soared into the net. How did he do it? Erez Garty describes the physics behind one of the most magnificent goals in the history of football.




Watch and answer the questions below:



1. What’s Newton’s first law of motion about?

2. How did Carlos manage to score the goal? Where was the trick?

3. What is the Magnus effect? What else does it apply to?

4. Why is a banana kick difficult?

5. Why can’t you kick a ball so that it boomerangs back to you?




  • out of bounds – if a ball is out of bounds, it is not within the playing area
  • to hook – to curve
  • to soar – to fly about
  • velocity – the speed of something in a given direction
  • to swerve – to change direction, especially suddenly
  • to intercept – if you intercept someone or something that is travelling from one place to another, you stop them before they get to their destination
  • deflection – a change of direction after hitting something



Practice makes perfect

Put the verbs in brackets into correct tenses. Use active or passive voice.

Adidas 1. ……….. [SUPPLY] balls for the World Cup since 1970. Through 2002, each ball 2. …….. [MAKE] with the iconic 32-panel construction. The 20 hexagonal and 12 pentagonal panels 3. …… traditionally …… [MAKE] of leather and stitched together.

A new era 4. ……… [BEGIN] with the 2006 World Cup in Germany. The 2006 ball, called the Teamgesit, 5. …….. [CONSIST] of 14 smooth, synthetic panels that 6. …….. thermally ……..[BOND] together instead of stitched. The tighter, glued seal 7. …….. [KEEP] water out of the interior of the ball on rainy and humid days.

Making a ball out of new materials, with new techniques and with a smaller number of panels, 8. ……… [CHANGE] how the ball flies through the air. Over the past three World Cups, Adidas 9. …….. [TRY] to balance the panel number, seam properties and surface texture to create balls with just the right aerodynamics.


Check your answers: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/mens-world-cup-soccer-ball-the-al-rihla-has-the-aerodynamics-of-a-champion/

Key: 1. has supplied; 2. was made; 3. were made; 4. began; 5. consisted; 6. were  bonded; 7. kept; 8. changes; 9. tried





  • Why do you think football is the world’s most popular sport?
  • Why does it attract hooligans?
  • Do professional footballers get paid too much in your opinion?
  • What do you like and dislike about football?
  • Where is the world’s best football played?



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Longing for More Stoppage Time
The World Cup brings back the man who made me love this beautiful game.