What to know about « Al Rihla », the connected ball of the 2022 World Cup?

As was the case for « Dzabilani » among others for the South African World Cup in 2010, Qatar also has its own ball, for the high mass of this month of November. It is called “Al Rihla” and arouses a lot of curiosity.

The Origins of “Al Rihla”

« Al Rihla » means « travel » in Arabic, in other words that this round leather through the cities of Qatar, will make the world of football travel, all the time of the competition, and you can hear it. Its design is inspired by « the culture, architecture, traditional boats and the flag of Qatar », explained FIFA. In terms of appearance, this multi-coloured ball is made up of a “pearlescent white base inspired by the traditional pearling industry of Qatar”. You can also see golden blue and red stripes. “Al Rihla” is made up of 20 Speedshell panels whose shape is inspired by traditional dhow sailboats.

In a context where global warming is more than ever on the agenda, FIFA has thought about the ecological aspect. “Al Rihla” therefore claims to be the first World Cup ball made “only with water-based inks and glues. »

« Al Rihla », the 14th marvel of the Adidas brand

As for the ball’s features, « Al Rihla is the fastest official World Cup ball to date, » said Adidas Design-Football Graphics & Hardwear Director Franziska Löffelmann. Might as well issue a warning to the goalkeepers who will have to be extra vigilant. “Football is getting faster and faster, and this development makes precision and stability in the air extremely important. By design, this new balloon retains its speed in the air for much longer,” she said.

Adidas speaks of « ideal trajectory stability created by the shape and grooves of the ball ». « More aerodynamic than all the other World Cup balls », Al Rihla « has been designed to promote rhythmic play ».

“Al Rihla” at the cutting edge of technology…

The “Al Rihla” balloon is connected and will be equipped with an inertial measurement unit sensor, capable of precisely determining its altitude, speed and position. It will be able to send data 500 times per second to a viewing room, reports the newspaper Le Figaro.

This system is accompanied by a device of 12 cameras located on the roofs of the stadiums, which will follow the trajectory of the ball and the players. It will be used to measure 29 data points per player on a basis of 50 times per second. Said technology will make it possible to detect offsides and to this end will facilitate decision-making by referees. They will of course have the last word.

Within 20 seconds of each offside decision by the referee, a 3D animation will be automatically generated and broadcast on TV and on giant screens in the stadiums to explain the official’s decision.

The “Al Rihla” at what price?

The « Al Rihla Pro » ball is sold by Adidas for 150 euros. A “Competition” version is available at 60 euros, and a “League” version at 35 euros. These last two models have the same design as the ball that will be used at the 2022 World Cup, but not the same characteristics, with in particular more polyester and a reduced proportion of polyurethane.

Arnaud BOCCO

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