With the group draw for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar right around the corner, Adidas has finally given fans and players a glimpse of the ball with which they hope to capture glory.
“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 FIFA marketing director Jean-François Pathy. “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.”
The boats FIFA refers to are dhow boats, which is a generic name for a number of traditional sailing vessels. Historically, dhow boats feature long, thin hulls and and were used as trading vessels carrying fruit, fresh water or other goods along the coasts of Arab countries, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and East Africa.
Dhow boats are known for their triangular lateen sails and for their stitched construction. The boats are made by sewing hull boards together with fibre or cords.
Adidas tested the Al Rihla ball rigorously in labs, wind tunnels and on the pitch, resulting in “the fastest and most accurate FIFA World Cup ball to date.” It features CRT-CORE, “the heart of the ball,” which provides speed, accuracy and consistency “for fast-paced action and precision, with maximal shape and air retention, as well as rebound accuracy.” It also features Adidas’s new Speedshell technology, “a textured [polyurethane] skin with a new 20-piece panel shape, improving the accuracy, flight stability and swerve thanks to macro- and microtextures, plus surface debossing.”
“The game is getting faster and, as it speeds up, accuracy and flight stability become critically important,” said Adidas design director Franziska Löffelmann. “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.”
The Al Rihla ball was also designed with sustainability in mind. All the inks and glues used on the ball are water-based.
On Wednesday, Adidas also released an orange version of the Al Rihla ball, labeled as a “winter ball.” Leagues in Europe often use high-visibility yellow or orange balls during snowy winter months. Given Qatar’s desert climate, though, it’s unlikely this will see any game action during the World Cup.
Before the World Cup kicks off, Adidas is taking the Al Rihla on a journey of its own. It will visit 10 cities around the world — including Dubai, Tokyo, Mexico City and New York — where Adidas will launch initiatives designed to improve access to and equity in sports.
Adidas has also pledged to donate 1% of total global sales of its soccer balls to Common Goal — a charity dedicated to driving sustainability and equity through soccer — until 2023.
The group stage draw for the 2022 World Cup will be held Friday in Doha, the capital city of Qatar. The tournament itself kicks off Nov. 21 and runs until Dec. 18.
Feature photo courtesy FIFA