August 18, 2022

The 2022 FIFA World Cup has its official match ball. Just before the 4th of July holiday adidas dropped a preview of the official match ball of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. And this ain’t your daddy’s match ball. Read on to get a look at the exterior and what’s under the proverbial hood!

A Smart Ball

The 2022 match ball features new connected ball technology. The tech provides an unprecedented level of data and information to match officials. Allowing them to make faster and more accurate decisions on what is essentially the biggest stage in sports.

Al Rihla will be the first World Cup Official Match Ball to feature this innovation. By providing precise ball data, which will be made available to Video Match Officials in real time. Combined with player position data and by applying artificial intelligence. The innovative connected ball technology contributes to FIFA’s semi-automated offside tech and offers Video Assistant Referees instantaneous information to help optimize decision making.

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A new adidas Suspension System in the center of the ball hosts and stabilizes a 500Hz inertial measurement unit (IMU) motion sensor. The sensor gives insight into every element of the movement of the ball.  But you know athletes.  Improving the game is fine. However, don’t do so at the cost of performance. In other words, don’t mess the ball up.  Fear not, the connected ball technology has been rigorously and robustly tested with a number of professional and grassroots football clubs around the world (including blind testing). Chief among them, at the FIFA Arab Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup 2021 in Abu Dhabi, with no perceived change to performance.

The Creators

The mad scientists behind this new tech are FIFA and KINEXON. The latter is a leader in state-of-the-art sensor network and edge computing. Enabling the Video Match Officials to review live data for the first time by automatically providing very accurate information, 500 times per second, on when a player has touched the ball.

It will help inform offside situations as well as assist in detecting unclear touches. Ultimately improving the quality and speed of VAR decision-making process.

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Of the tech, Johannes Holzmüller, Director Football Technology & Innovation at FIFA said, “This technology is the culmination of three years of dedicated research and testing by FIFA and our partner adidas to provide the best possible experience for the referees, teams, players and fans who will be heading to Qatar later this year. We look forward to seeing semi-automated offside technology including the connected ball technology in action at the FIFA World Cup 2022.”

The Debut

Al Rihla – the Official Match Ball of the 2022 FIFA World Cup will be used in all of the tournament’s 64 matches, starting from the first match on November 21st.

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