The official match ball — Al Rihla – for the upcoming 2022 Qatar World Cup has been unveiled by adidas.
Al Rihla is the 14th successive ball that adidas has created for the Fifa World Cup. Designed to support peak game speeds, the ball travels faster in flight than any ball in the tournament’s history, the Mail Online reported.
Al Rihla is the Arabic for ‘the journey’. It is inspired by Qatar’s architecture, boats, and flag.
“The ball is just the beginning. The rest of your football journey is yet to be written,” Al Rihla’s caption on adidas.com says.
Fifa’s director of marketing, Jean-Francois Pathy, said: “This is a stunning, sustainable and high-quality official match ball from adidas that will be enjoyed by stars performing at the top of their game on the world’s biggest stage in Qatar, as well as grassroots players everywhere.
Al Rihla’s worldwide journey will represent the incredible reach of the Fifa World Cup and give fans a unique opportunity to engage with the event as excitement builds ahead of the big kick-off.”
The ball has been designed from the inside out using data and rigorous testing at adidas labs, in wind tunnels and on the pitch by football players themselves, the report added.
Franziska Loffelmann, the design director – Football Graphics & Hardwear at adidas, said, “The game is getting faster and, as it speeds up, accuracy and flight stability become critically important. The new design allows the ball to maintain a significantly higher speed as it journeys through the air.
“For the biggest global stage in all of sport, we set out to make the impossible possible with radical innovation by creating the fastest and most accurate Fifa World Cup ball to date.”
Andrew Symonds dies in car crash
Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds was killed in what police said was a single-car crash on Saturday night outside Townsville, on the north-eastern coast of Queensland, Australia. Police confirmed that the 46-year-old died at the scene of the mishap.
“Early information indicates, shortly after 11 pm (Australian time) the car was being driven on Hervey Range Road, near Alice River Bridge when it left the roadway and rolled,” the police statement said.
“Emergency services attempted to revive the 46-year-old driver and sole occupant. However, he died of his injuries. The Forensic Crash Unit is investigating.”
Symonds’ sudden death triggered an outpouring of emotional tributes in the cricketing world with a host of past and present players, including his Australian teammates and international stars, expressing shock and disbelief at the tragic news. His death follows in quick succession after compatriots Shane Warne and Rodney Marsh – due to heart attacks – in a triple whammy for Australia.
Born on the 9th of June 1975 in Birmingham to West Indian-European parents, Symonds grew up in Australia. He started his Cricket career for Queensland in 1994 where he scored 5000 runs and took more than 100 wickets.
He first grabbed attention in 1995 when, as a 20-year-old, he smashed a record 20 sixes for Gloucestershire against Glamorgan. It didn’t fructify immediately on the international stage, mostly for his temperament as he would admit later. “I was a man without a map when I went out to bat.”
Symonds’ old coach Toot Byron commented that he hated watching him bat. “He wasn’t in control of his shot selection. He’d get 24 off an over and then go out on the last ball of that over” Byron added.
Ten years later, Symonds came through for Australia after Ricky Ponting put faith on him at the 2003 World Cup. This was exactly the kind of break Symonds was eying. Among a masterful 143 off 125 balls against Pakistan, Symonds had a dream run during the tournament with many such invaluable knocks.
However, the roller-coaster ride had only started. In 2006 he was suspended for drinking issues. He bounced back in the 2007-08 season as an all-rounder. He scored 777 runs in nine Tests against Sri Lanka, India & West Indies.
He was the first one to embrace the 20-over format when the IPL came into existence in 2008, and one of the costliest players in the auction. His Deccan Chargers failed miserably in the first season, but went on to win the next season.
Disciplinary issues crept up again though. The infamous ‘Monkeygate’ altercation with Harbhajan Singh and alcohol problems before the 2009 T20 World cup proved to be his undoing.
Grab tickets for NBA’s debut in UAE at Abu Dhabi Etihad Arena
The UAE is breaking another glass ceiling in the world of Sports as the country extends its outreach to get the world’s most popular disciplines headed to these shores. The NBA will makes its debut not just in the UAE, but in the Arabian Gulf, even if it is for two games this October.
Giannis Antetokounmpo and the 2021 NBA Champion Milwaukee Bucks will be taking on the Atlanta Hawks in two pre-season games on October 6 and October 8.
Basketball is a popular sport and the only source of joy for the large expatriate Filipino community just like cricket is for those from the subcontinent. That is why Manny Pacquaio is aiming to bring his Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League to the UAE next year for a league of its own in the emirates. The eight-time boxing champion is a regular visitor to Dubai and has played in exhibition games before too.
The Bucks are currently battling the Celtics in the NBA post-season, with two-time the NBA MVP flanked by three-time NBA All-Star Khris Middleton and three-time NBA All-Defensive team member Jrue Holiday.
The Bucks previously met the Hawks in the 2021 Eastern Conference Finals, with the Hawks led by two-time NBA All-Star Trae Young and 2020-21 NBA rebounding leader Clint Capella, along with John Collins and Bogdan Bogdanovic, with the Bucks prevailing to win their first NBA championship in 50 years.
“We are honoured to have been selected to participate in the NBA’s first games in the UAE. As the NBA continues to expand globally, we look forward to visiting Abu Dhabi and furthering the league’s goals of inspiring people through basketball. We will be proud to represent our city, our state and Bucks fans worldwide this October,” Milwaukee Bucks and Fiserv Forum President Peter Feigin.
The partnership also sees DCT Abu Dhabi, under “Visit Abu Dhabi,” the tourism promotion initiative of the UAE’s capital city, serve as the Official Tourism Destination Partner of the NBA in the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and China.
More than 220 male and female prospects from the Middle East – including five players from the UAE – have participated in Basketball Without Borders or NBA Academy, the league’s elite development programs for top prospects from outside the U.S.
Since 2019, more than 500 boys and girls have also participated in the NBA Basketball School Dubai (UAE), a year-round, tuition-based development programme for boys and girls ages 6-18.
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“We are thrilled to be hosting the first NBA games in Abu Dhabi, the first to be hosted in the UAE and the Arabian Gulf, and look forward to welcoming the Atlanta Hawks, the Milwaukee Bucks and basketball fans from across the world to discover this incredible city and experience our authentic Emirati culture for themselves,” said DCT Abu Dhabi Director General Saleh Mohamed Al Geziry.
“Basketball has the ability to unite communities, and the spirit of the game will be felt by players and visitors, both on and off the court. The unveiling of the NBA teams marks an important milestone in our wider partnership with this world-class sports organisation.”
‘Hand of God’: Maradona’s iconic shirt to be auctioned in London
A piece of the most controversial moment in soccer history is being auctioned.
It’s the shirt that football legend Diego Maradona wore while scoring the controversial ‘Hand of God’ goal against England in the 1986 World Cup.
The jersey – being put on sale for the first time – could fetch more than 4 million pounds ($5.2 million) in an online auction that opens April 20, Auctioneer Sotheby’s was quoted as saying by the Associated Press.
Brahm Wachter, Sotheby’s head of streetwear and modern collectibles, said the shirt is “on a small list of the most important sports memorabilia items in the world”.
Football fans can’t forget that Maradona scored two goals in the quarter-final match in Mexico City on June 22, 1986. The referee allowed the first goal as a header, even though the ball had touched Maradona’s fist.
Maradona later said it had been scored “a little with the head of Maradona, and a little with the hand of God”.
In a 2019 documentary, he said the goal was a revenge for the British victory over Argentina in the Falkland Islands war.
While netting the second goal, he dodged nearly all the English defenders and punched the ball by beating one of the best goalkeepers Peter Shilton. A Fifa poll saw it being voted “goal of the century” in 2002.
Argentina won that game 2-1 and went on to lift the world cup. After the match, Maradona swapped shirts with the England midfielder Steve Hodge.
Since then, the shirt has been on display at the National Football Museum in Manchester, northern England.
But now, Hodge has decided to sell the jersey. Hodge said he had been a “proud owner” of a shirt that “has deep cultural meaning to the football world, the people of Argentina, and the people of England”.
The shirt could beat a record for a piece of sportswear, held by a Babe Ruth New York Yankees jersey that sold for $5.64 million in 2019, the AP reported.
It will be exhibited in Sotheby’s London showroom from April 20-May 4.