Al Rihla, the ball of the FIFA World Cup 2022, is a combination of technology and sustainable materials

The FIFA World Cup 2022 ball contains many technological innovations, making it a real “smart ball”. Al Rihla, the official ball of the FIFA World Cup 2022, is manufactured by Adidas, like the balls of every World Cup since 1970. The name, Al Rihla, is an Arabic word meaning “the journey”, a metaphor for the game of soccer, which constructs a journey composed of endless successive touches of the ball.

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What is so special about the Al Rihla ball? First, the bladder is made of crushproof butyl rubber. This is a very durable material, which gives the ball greater stability, and allows accurate trajectories to be drawn, thanks to its non-deformability. Second, the outer shell consists of twenty heat-sealed panels of PU leather (polyurethane), using only water-based inks and glues. Also the shell has been designed to speed up the game and allow for higher kicking accuracy. Its pearly background is juxtaposed with colors inspired by local traditions.

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The real innovation of the Al Rihla ball is its technological core, which allows for almost complete control of the game, also in terms of refereeing. In fact, the core of the ball is equipped with a sensor that transmits very precise data on the position of the ball in real time. Basically, the smart ball communicates directly with the VAR room and allows referees to make decisions based on very accurate data. Although Al Rihla is not Adidas’ first smart ball, this is the first time that such a ball has been used at the World Cup. [All pictures: courtesy of Adidas]

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