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World Cup ball
The Adidas Al Rihla is the official match ball of the upcoming 2022 World Cup. (Photo by Nick Potts/PA Images via Getty Images)

The 2022 World Cup ball is here, how does it compare to the other 21

World Cup ball
The Adidas Al Rihla is the official match ball of the upcoming 2022 World Cup. (Photo by Nick Potts/PA Images via Getty Images)

The 2022 World Cup ball is here, how does it stack up against the other 21 balls

Adidas revealed the World Cup ball that will be used as the Official Match Ball of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar on Wednesday. The Al Rihla as it is called is the 14th straight World Cup ball made by Adidas. It looks great with the design being “inspired by the culture, architecture, iconic boats and flag of Qatar.” The latest World Cup ball is made to be the quickest and most sustainable. This is a big change from what the World Cup ball started as 22 editions ago. Back then the ball was made of leather and much heavier and slower than it is now. So with that being said here is how the Al Rihla ranks up against the other 21 World Cup balls.

22. Tiento/T-Model – Uruguay 1930

World Cup ball
(Photo by Carl de Souza/AFP via Getty Images)

The first World Cup ball was nothing special to look at. The leather ball had laces that made it look like an overinflated football. The 1930 World Cup Final was interesting as two balls were used. In the first half, Argentina used their ball and led at the break, but in the second half, Uruguay used their ball and came from behind to win the inaugural World Cup.

21. Federale 102 – Italy 1934

Similar in look to the Tiento ball, the Federale 102 had laces to keep it together. The slight difference is that this World Cup ball had 12 symmetrical panels on it while the 1930 ball had T-shaped panels on it. 

20. Swiss World Champion – Switzerland 1954

It is ironic that the words “Swiss World Champion” were on it considering Switzerland’s best result in any competition was a silver medal at the 1924 Summer Olympics. The yellow coloring did no favors for the ball either, but it was the first ball not to be the typical brown leather color. This World Cup ball was the first to have 18 panels making it up instead of 12. 

19. Duplo T – Brazil 1950

This was a game-changing ball as it was the first World Cup ball to not have laces sticking out of it. This made heading the ball much safer as the laces on previous balls could cause head injuries. The color is very bland with the word “Superball” written across it.

18. Crack – Chile 1962

This World Cup ball was one of the more unused balls as European teams did not approve of it and had other balls shipped over just in case. This is also one of the more complex-looking balls as the pattern includes 18 panels in three different shapes.

17. Top Star – Sweden 1958

The ball decision for the 1958 World Cup was unique as over 100 different companies submitted a ball with one being chosen by officials to be the World Cup ball. The ball that was chosen looks very much like a volleyball with its pattern and was the one used by Pele in his first World Cup appearance.

16. Challenge 4-Star – England 1966

The ball that was used when England won its only World Cup appears very similar to the Top Star ball. The red-colored ball was made by Slazenger and was the last ball made by a company other than Adidas.

15. Allen – France 1938

While this ball still had laces, something about the words “Coupe de Monde” on them really stands out. Also, most of the other World Cup balls have names that sound smooth and influenced by the region, this one though is named Allen which does not seem to fit. 

14. Tango España – Spain 1982

World Cup ball
(Photo by ASA/picture alliance via Getty Images)

This ball was the last one to be made of leather. The ball also included a new waterproof seaming so that the ball would not be weighed down, even more, when damp. The design on this ball created 12 circles through the use of triangles with the points cut off.

13. Tango – Argentina 1978

Virtually identical to the ball ranked above it, the original Tango ball finds itself ranked a place ahead of the Tango España because the original version had the old Adidas logo on it which on the ball looked slightly cleaner than the three stripes logo.

12. Telstar – Mexico 1970

World Cup ball
(Photo by Daniel Karmann/picture alliance via Getty Images)

When I think of a soccer ball this is the one that comes to mind. A white ball with black pentagons on it. The only downside to the design is the gold lettering that is on this World Cup ball. Not many versions of this ball were sent to Mexico and as a result, some matches had a different ball in place.

11. Telstar Durlast – West Germany 1974

The major difference between this ball and its predecessor was that the Telestar Durlast was waterproof because of a polyurethane cover. This ball replaced the gold lettering with black and that looked much better.

10. Etrusco Unico – Italy 1990

This ball has almost a Vegas casino vibe with the lion head pattern. The same style as the Tango series, the ball was at the time the lightest and quickest ever used at a World Cup.

9. Questra – USA 1994

Same style as the Etrusco Unico but instead of lion heads filling in the triad triangles it looks like a galaxy due to the U.S’s involvement in space research. The ball was used after the World Cup in the Spanish first division, now La Liga.

8. Telstar 18 – Russia 2018

The pixelated design on the ball is very nice but the grayscale coloring is a little boring. The version used in the final was much nicer as the Telstar Mechta had a red color scheme. This World Cup ball was made as a tribute to the Telstar balls used in 1970 and 1974.

7. Azteca – Mexico 1986

Same style of design as the Tango series, the Azteca ball is by far the best looking. The Aztec pattern in the triangles is very representative of the Aztec culture that is prominent in Mexico. The main stadium in Mexico is also called the Azteca. This was the first ball made with synthetic materials.

6. Tricolore – France 1998

World Cup ball
(Photo by Gerard Cerles/AFP via Getty Images)

After seven editions of the World Cup ball being mainly black and white, this is a nice touch of color. The colors on the ball are the same as the host country of France’s flag with red, white, and blue being shown. The coloring is a nice touch and this was the first time a ball had multiple colors on it.

5. Al Rihla – Qatar 2022

This ball could have been a top three-or-four ball for sure with the crazy design that represents boating and life in Qatar. The colors are very vibrant and make the ball stand out. I am very excited to see how this ball looks and plays on the field when the 2022 World Cup kicks off from Qatar in November.

4. Fevernova – South Korea and Japan 2002

The spiraled triangle pattern on this ball is pretty cool looking. With the red and goldish coloring, it almost looks like a spinning ball of fire. With the introduction of the Fevernova, the run of the Tango series came to an end after six World Cups.

3. Brazuca – Brazil 2014

World Cup ball
(Photo by Fabrice Coffrini/AFP Photo via Getty Images)

Tied with the 2002 World Cup for the most goals scored at 171, the World Cup ball in Brazil came accustomed to finding the back of the net. The design on the ball was pretty good with a new clean pattern on it. This was the first ball to be named by a fan vote and the name Brazuca came out the winner over Bossa Nova and Carnavalesca.

2. Teamgeist – Germany 2006

World Cup ball
(Photo by Friedemann Vogel/Bongarts/Getty Images)

The 2006 World Cup was the first that I remember watching and the ball was awesome. This ball looked like a new version of the original balls that had long panels. On the Teamgeist the pattern was that of the number 8. The version used in the final between France and Italy was even cooler as it was a gold ball instead of white with the same design on it.

1. Jabulani – South Africa 2010

World Cup ball
The ‘Jabulani’ soccer ball from the 2010 World Cup in South Africa was one of the best. (Photo by Daniel Karmann/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Of course one of the best World Cups had the best ball. The 2010 World Cup in South Africa was great from start to finish (minus the vuvuzelas) and the Jabulani ball was legendary. The word Jabulani means “be happy” in Zulu, one of South Africa’s languages. Color wise the ball was white with triangular patterns on it in a number of colors. The use of 11 on the ball stands out because there are 11 different colors on the ball that represent the 11 languages in South Africa and the 11 players that play at a time. The ball did have some issues relating to its aerodynamics of it as the ball seemed to fly unpredictably. Despite the issue, this is hands down the greatest World Cup ball we’ve seen so far.

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