As the world awaits with bated breath to witness the “Greatest Sporting Spectacle on the Earth”—the FIFA World Cup 2022– in Qatar, Indians are already dizzy with the excitement of the forthcoming game. The World Cup frenzy was drummed up in India by Adidas, the globally iconic sporting brand, seven months before the start of the tournament in November 2021 with the launch of Al Rihla – the Official Match Ball for the World Cup.
Translated as “the journey” in Arabic, Al Rihla has been inspired by the architecture, iconic boats and the flag of Qatar. The ball provides the highest accuracy and reliability on the field, partly due to its new panel shape and surface textures. Designed to support the game at high speed as it travels, Al Rihila is faster in flight than any other World Cup ball.
However, such innovations shouldn’t surprise soccer aficionados or those interested in the cup’s history. Since 1970, when the iconic brand was made a FIFA partner and the official match ball supplier in Mexico, Adidas has remained the match ball supplier for the successive 14 World Cups. The first ball was called Telestar with black and white panels to make it more visible on black and white televisions.
In fact, in the 1986 World Cup football tournament held in Mexico again, the company came up with the first fully water-resistant synthetic ball with a coating of polyurethane called Adidas Azteca, which too was inspired by Mexico’s native Aztech architecture and murals. In 1994, at the US World Cup, the ball was enveloped in polystyrene foam to ensure greater speed and ball control.
To keep up the momentum and whip up the emotional connection, the official supplier, Adidas, revealed the Home and Away federation kits created for national teams participating in the grand sporting spectacle. Thus, Indian fans can now identify with and support their favourite teams like Argentina, Germany, Mexico, Spain, Wales and Japan, dressed in their favourite kits.
In India, traditionally, fan choices range from South American teams like Brazil and Argentina and European teams like Germany and Spain to Portugal, which has a sizeable fan following in tiny Goa, considering the state’s history. Past historical baggage also ensures that France has a fan club in Pondicherry.
These kits have not only been designed to integrate different cultures and represent gender equality but also capture the spirit of each nation. It comprises Mixtec art created by the indigenous people of Mexico to ‘Yatagarasu’, Japan’s mythological three-legged origami crow and vibrant purple hues in Argentina jersey.
They are also eco-friendly and in tune with Adidas’ commitment to conserving natural resources. They are created using the latest Adidas fabric innovations, including lightweight, heat-applied sportswear. Similarly, fans can join Adidas’s ongoing campaign to end plastic waste. Their kits are made of 100% recycled polyester and contain 50% Parley Ocean Plastic—using discarded plastics collected from remote islands, beaches, coastal communities, and shorelines, preventing them from polluting our oceans.
To provide fans with a once-in-a-lifetime’ watching experience,’ marketers and brands in India developed various innovative schemes, as witnessed during the 2018 World Cup. Hotels and entertainment offer different services to the fans, while football-crazy states like West Bengal, Goa and Kerala paint their streets and colonies in the colours of their preferred teams. The media also adds to the frenzy by giving ‘kick-by-kick’ updates on games happening on distant shores.
Indian fans can now root for their favourite teams, dressed in the team colours and soak in the competitive atmosphere, sitting in the comfort of their homes while their favourite teams battle it out with their opponents for football’s biggest crown.
As the excitement reaches a fever pitch, Indian fans can expect much more exciting goodies from Adidas and other sporting brands. So, bring on the munchies, toot the vuvuzelas and groove to the FIFA tournament anthem wearing an Adidas kit while your favourite team steps onto the football battlefield.
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