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All you need to know about Al Rihla – the official ball of Qatar 2022, the first ball to be charged before use

The World Cup in Qatar will go down in history in many ways, from the organisation to the participating teams and from the historic firsts (first matches refereed by women at the World Cup) to the performances of the teams considered outsiders. Most of all, however, it will also go down in history because it was the first final tournament where the balls needed to be charged at the socket, something no one would have imagined 5 or 10 years ago.

This is the fourteenth consecutive ball that Adidas has created especially for the FIFA World Cup. This ball has the facility to adapt to the highest speeds in the sport today, as it travels faster through the air than any of the other balls from previous World Cups.

Al Rihla – as it has been named by FIFA – was designed from the inside out, using rigorous data and testing in a variety of environments including sports labs, wind tunnels, and on the football pitch. This new version of the official World Cup ball offers the highest level of accuracy and reliability on the field thanks in part to its new panel structure and surface textures.

Importantly, all the components used in the manufacture of the ball have been carefully selected, making it the first World Cup ball made exclusively with water-based inks and glues.

On the other hand, the name of the Al Rihla ball means “journey” in Arabic and is inspired by the life journey of every fan and lover of the beautiful game. In the case of its design, it comes from the culture, architecture, boats, and flag of Qatar. In the same vein, its bold and vibrant colours and patterns, set against a pearlescent backdrop, are inspired by Qatari culture and the ever-increasing pace of football around the world.

Al Rihla is the first World Cup ball in the 92-year history of the tournament to directly contribute to raising funds to positively impact people’s lives around the world. To this end, 1% of Al Rihla’s net sales will go to Common Goal, a movement that creates opportunities for participation for all stakeholders in football. This is the latest commitment to creating lasting change for grassroots communities.

Why do these balls need to be recharged?

Al Rihla is a smart ball with a processor that allows it to analyse all events during the match. To make it work, it needs a battery: its battery life is six hours when in contact with the pitch and 18 days when it receives no external stimulus. So that’s why you have to charge it at a socket from time to time, exactly like a mobile phone.

What is the chip for?

It is an innovative tool that is of great help to match officials. Thanks to the chip, it is possible to know the exact location of the ball and it is easier to draw lines to signal a possible offside. It can also be used to collect data from the stimuli it receives.

The chip has also been used by FIFA to determine who scored Portugal’s first goal in the group stage match against Uruguay. The chip detected Bruno Fernandes’ impact with the skin and until it made contact with the turf it detected nothing else. So even though Cristiano said he touched the ball, so the goal should be awarded to him, the truth is he didn’t.

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