The first 60 matches at Qatar 2022 delivered huge innovation in terms of the ball used in this edition of the FIFA World Cup, with ”Al Rihla” being crucial to the excellent games of the competition, due to the technology implemented in it.
The core of the ball is formed by a new Adidas Suspension System that stabilises a 500Hz inertial measurement unit (IMU) motion sensor, which provides unprecedented insight into every element of the movement of the ball. This technology is unnoticeable for players and not affecting their performance. The sensor is powered by a rechargeable battery, which can be charged by induction.
But now, ”Al Rihla” – translated roughly in English as ”The Journey” – will make way for the new ball, created for the semi-finals and the final of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, tailor-made for the biggest of stages in world handball.
”Al Hilm” – which means ”The Dream” in English – has a new design, set on a textured gold base colour which features a subtle triangular pattern, drawing inspiration from the sparkling deserts of the region that surround the city of Doha, the capital of the host country, the colour of the FIFA World Cup trophy, and the pattern of the Qatar flag.
Utilizing the latest technological advances in ball design, Al Hilm includes the same unprecedented adidas ‘Connected Ball’ technology as Al Rihla, which has proven invaluable in helping match officials making faster and more accurate decisions during this World Cup.
Designed from the inside out using data and rigorous testing at adidas labs, in wind tunnels and on the pitch by football players themselves, “Al Hilm” provides the highest levels of accuracy and reliability on the field of play, partly due to its new panel shape and surface textures.
“With the development of the connected ball technology, adidas made it possible that an additional important layer of information is available to the video match officials. The data from the ball unlocks new insights for storytelling around the unique moments on the pitch at this World Cup,” said Johannes Holzmüller, Director of Football Technology & Innovation at FIFA.
In a video released by FIFA, the new technology that “lives” inside the ball has been presented. Known as the “connected ball technology”, it will be used to enhance the VAR system, providing an unprecedented level of data and information to match officials for making faster and more accurate decisions in crunch moments.
Using artificial intelligence and combined with player position data, this technology will also contribute to the FIFA’s semi-automated offside technology, which has been already deployed in the UEFA Champions League, and offers Video Assistant Referees instantaneous information to help optimise decision making.
“Al Hilm represents a beacon of light on the power of sport and football to bring the world together. Millions will tune in from almost every country around the globe, united by their passion for the game. We wish all teams involved in the final stages of the tournament the best of luck as they compete on the largest stage that football has to offer” said Nick Craggs, the General Manager of Football at adidas, the provider of the official match ball at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
158 goals have been scored until this stage of the competition with the ”Al Rihla” ball, roughly the same amount like at Russia 2018, when 157 goals were scored before the semi-finals and the last two matches, the play-off match for the bronze medal and the big final of the competition.