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Ranking the five best FIFA World Cup match balls since 1970

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By Martin Graham | 27th May 2022

The official match ball of the 2022 FIFA World Cup – the Al Rihla – was released on March 30, 2022.

Al Rihla is a Qatari word that means “The Journey” and it was named by Adidas, the makers of the match ball, because of their use of technology which allows the ball to move quickly and easily once it leaves a player’s feet.

It is said to be the fastest match ball ever made but fans will have to wait until the World Cup to see it in action.

The marketing of Al Rihla, like the marketing of every other mundial match ball, has made us take a look back on the iconic match balls of World Cups past.

Here are the five best match balls to feature on the global stage.

5 – Tricolore, 1998

This is the first ball to feature colour in its design in a nod to the host nation. France’s Blue, White and Red stood out on a design that was reused for five different editions of the World Cup. It is not only iconic in design, but because the host nation France would go on to win with the ball that was specially made for them.

4 – Brazuca, 2014

The design of this ball was a nod to the carnival culture of the host nation, Brazil. It features a beautiful mix of red, blue and green that blurs past you like a rainbow when it is struck. It was also the first ball to be named by fans, which makes it even more endearing.

3 – Teamgeist, 2006

This is often referred to as the roundest ball ever made by Adidas, who have made all World Cup match balls since 1970. This is because the company used only 14 panels in its making as opposed to the usual 32 panels. This gave it a very smooth feel and it was a popular design for match balls in other tournaments/competitions asides the World Cup in that period.

2 – Al-Rihla, 2022

We are yet to see this ball in a tiom, but for its design alone, it sits this high up on the list. The colours used in its design match (may even surpass) the Brazuca and its triangular panels look a bit similar to the design of the Teamgeist. Come November, it could just be bumped up to number one as the coolest match ball ever. But then, it could turn out like the 2010 Jabulani, which looked cool but elicited a myriad of complaints from everybody who kicked the ball.

We wait with our fingers crossed.

1 – Azteca, 1986

The iconic match ball that is associated with one of the most iconic World Cup figures, Diego Armando Maradona. This is a ball that incorporates minimalism with elegance in its design. It is also the first ball to incorporate elements of its hist nation’s culture, as the ball features some symbols of the ancient Aztecs of Mexico.

Martin Graham is an MFF sports writer

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