As we head into the knockout phase of the World Cup in Qatar, the adidas Al Rihla soccer ball continues to the star of the show – and thankfully, for all the right reasons!
The ‘Al Rihla’ takes its name from the Arabic word for ‘the journey’ and is inspired by the architecture, boats, and flag of host nation Qatar. The ball has been designed from the inside out using data and rigorous testing at adidas labs, in wind tunnels and on the pitch by football players themselves. And according to adidas, Al Rihla is expected to provide “the highest levels of accuracy and reliability on the field of play, partly due to its new panel shape and surface textures.”
Between the potential Ronaldo headed goal and the hugely important “over the endline” incident on Japan’s winning goal vs Spain, the ball has come up trumps.
On the Ronaldo incident, adidas were able to prove using the chip inside the ball that there was no touch as it passed by Ronaldo’s head. A chip inside the ball that measures impact showed no external forces impacted the balls flight.
“In the match between Portugal and Uruguay, using the Connected Ball Technology housed in adidas’s Al Rihla Official Match Ball, we are able to definitively show no contact on the ball from Cristiano Ronaldo for the opening goal in the game. No external force on the ball could be measured as shown by the lack of ‘heartbeat’ in our measurements. The 500Hz IMU sensor inside the ball allows us to be highly accurate in our analysis.”
Right before Japan scored their winning goal vs Spain, the ball seemed to cross the endline right before being crossed into the box. If you have been on social media the past 24hrs, you would have seen the mass frenzy of opinion that went with the decision. But, adidas and FIFA were able to verify the balls exact position as it crossed the endline, and there was a piece of the ball still in bounds. See the below video as an explanation on how perspective can be altered by the angle of the camera.
Other cameras may offer misleading images but on the evidence available, the whole of the ball was not out of play. pic.twitter.com/HKKEot0j1Y
— FIFA.com (@FIFAcom) December 2, 2022
What is most important is the fact the the Al Rihla ball has been in the news for the right reasons, and not because of performance issues like the Jabulani was. I’m not sure Adidas could have anticipated it getting just as much media coverage as it has, with so many up close images being posted online – and we are only getting to the all important knockout stage!
Al Rihla Match Ball Tech Specs:
– Speedshell PU skin with micro and macro textures.
– Thermally bonded seamless construction.
– 20-piece panel enhances aerodynamics and accuracy. Improves swerve of shots.
– CRT-Core improves accuracy, maximum shape and air retention.
– Pearlesecent skin.
– Meets FIFA Quality Pro Standards.