Al Hilm (Arabic for ‘the dream’), the official match ball for the semifinals and final of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, was revealed Sunday at a special event in the Al Rihla Arena at the FIFA Fan Festival. Al Rihla was the official match ball until the quarter-final stage.
The event organised by adidas had footballing legends Brazilian Kaka (Ricardo) and Spanish lker Casillas unveiling Al Hilm and highlighting the importance of added technology match balls to support the highest game speeds as they travel faster in flight than any other World Cup ball.
“Al Hilm, the official match ball being played with on the field of play features ‘Connected Ball’ technology, an unprecedented innovation which has proved a great success in making semi-automated offside decisions faster and more accurate during this World Cup,” FIFA said in a press statement.
Both Kaka and Casillas, at a roundtable discussion recalled their experiences about FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 so far and said that it was one of the greatest tournaments so far in World Cup history.
“The compact nature of the tournament has particularly helped the smooth conduct of the tournament so far. Many people could watch more than two games on a single day which is very fascinating. This is unthinkable at most other places. Moreover, the organisation of the tournament so far has been extremely excellent and smooth which deserves special appreciation,” said Kaka.
Al Hilm has a unique graphic design, befitting of an occasion as historic as the final matches of a FIFA World Cup. Combined with player position data, the innovation in Al Hilm offers video match officials instant data, to help optimise decision making for a seamless fan experience. By combining the ball data captured by IMU sensors within the ball and applying Artificial Intelligence, the new technology supports the semi-automated offside system, especially by providing the exact moment the ball is played in tight offside situations.
Johannes Holzmüller, director of Football Technology & Innovation at FIFA, said: “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.”
The design of the ball is 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, the colour of the FIFA World Cup trophy, and the pattern of the Qatar flag. Bold red accents complement the graphic, reflecting both the generative architecture of Qatar, and once again, the country’s flag.
The ball encapsulates its namesake, as it connects to the twilight hours, where the red sky meets the desert sand at dusk – a time when dreams are set to come true under the floodlights of the Lusail Stadium – the stage for the final of the World Cup 2022.
The ball was also designed with the environment at its heart - all components have been carefully considered, and Al Hilm is the first World Cup semifinals and final ball made using only water-based inks and glues. Al Hilm features the same new panel shape and surface textures introduced for Al Rihla.
“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” Nick Craggs, general manager, Football, adidas, added.
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