Meet Al Rihla, FIFA's official ball for 2022 Qatar World Cup
As we look ahead to nations being grouped together to fight it out for the global football tournament, it's worth knowing a little more about the ball.
It's just a ball, right? Don't even dare think about it as simply as that. This is the latest in the evolution of the World Cup football, the one (well, there are actually many) that will be used at Qatar 2022. And, as tradition dictates, it has a name: Al Rihla.
FIFA announce Al Rihla, the World Cup 2022 ball
Ahead of the draw to determine the groups, FIFA officially launched the name and design of the ball that will be used at their showpiece event in Qatar. It is from manufacturer Adidas, that has now provided 14 consecutive balls of the tournament, and it 'is designed to support peak game speeds, as it travels faster in flight than any ball in the tournament’s history.' Let's hear what those involved say.
More about the World Cup:
“This is a stunning, sustainable and high-quality official match ball from Adidas that will be enjoyed by stars performing at the top of their game on the world’s biggest stage in Qatar, as well as grassroots players everywhere,” said Jean-François Pathy, FIFA’s Director of Marketing.
“Al Rihla’s worldwide journey will represent the incredible reach of the FIFA World Cup and give fans a unique opportunity to engage with the event as excitement builds ahead of the big kick-off.”
'So, what features make it so good?' you may be asking yourself, still cynically holding on to your 'it's just a ball' stance. Well, FIFA explains its key features:
First is its CRT-CORE, described as "the heart of the ball, providing speed, accuracy and consistency for fast-paced action and precision, with maximal shape and air retention, as well as rebound accuracy." Then there is the SPEEDSHELL, which is "a textured PU skin with a new 20-piece panel shape, improving the accuracy, flight stability and swerve thanks to macro- and microtextures, plus surface debossing."
That's you told.
"Football is getting faster and faster, and as speed increases, precision and stability in the air are becoming increasingly important," said Franziska Löffelmann, Adidas' director of design, graphics and football equipment, in a statement released via FIFA.
“The game is getting faster and, as it speeds up, accuracy and flight stability become critically important,” said Franziska Löffelmann, the Design Director – Football Graphics & Hardwear at adidas.
“The new design allows the ball to maintain a significantly higher speed as it 'journeys' through the air. For the biggest global stage in all of sport, we set out to make the impossible possible with radical innovation by creating the fastest and most accurate FIFA World Cup ball to date.”
What does Al Rihla mean?
As I've said, the ball has been given the name Al Rihla, which means "the journey" in Arabic, and is inspired by the culture, architecture, iconic boats and flag of Qatar. The bright, eye-catching colours on a pearlescent background represent the World Cup host country and the increasing speed of the game.
The ball has been designed with sustainability in mind; in fact, the Al Rihla is the first World Cup ball to be made exclusively with water-based inks and glues.