Fans have noticed Lionel Messi's name written on the official Adidas World Cup ball

Lionel Messi of Argentina controls the ball during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 semi final match between Argentina and Croatia at Lusail Stadium on December 13, 2022 in Lusail City, Qatar.
(Image credit: Markus Gilliar - GES Sportfoto/Getty Images)

The World Cup trophy might well have Lionel Messi's name written on it… and so might the ball. 

Messi has perhaps been the standout player in Qatar and during another spectacular performance in the semi-final against Croatia, Adidas debuted their new ball for the semi-finals and final. We've been using the Al Rihla up until now, a technicolour beast that went down well with fans – only for the final four games of the tournament (the third-place play-off, too) to bring in the Al Hilm.

And of course, Leo Messi is the German manufacturer's big star, with five of him featuring in their World Cup advert (opens in new tab). But hang on a minute – is the little genius himself referenced on the World Cup ball?

The adidas 'Al Hilm' Official Finals Match Ball is seen ahead of the Argentina Press Conference at on December 12, 2022 in Doha, Qatar.

The Adidas 'Al Hilm' Official Finals Match Ball is seen ahead of the Argentina Press Conference (Image credit: Mark Metcalfe - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

Look a little closer. It certainly looks to the naked eye as if that triangle spells the word, "Leo", doesn't it?

The "L" is very clear to make out – it then looks like it curves into a lower case "e" before finishing with an "o". They couldn't have made a reference to a single player on the World Cup ball, could they? Were Adidas banking on Argentina getting this far? 

The Adidas 'Al Hilm' Official Finals Match Ball is seen ahead of the Argentina Press Conference at on December 12, 2022 in Doha, Qatar.

Do you see what we see? (Image credit: Mark Metcalfe - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

Thankfully for the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Piers Morgan, it is in fact a coincidence.

The ball has the word "together" written on that panel in a few different languages. The primary language in Qatar is of course Arabic, where the word translates as "maean".

Naturally, this is written in Arabic script on the ball – معا. It looks like "Leo"… but it's not. Never mind, Messi. It's your tournament, it would have been greedy if the ball itself was yours, too. 

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Mark White
Staff Writer

Mark White has been a staff writer on FourFourTwo since joining in January 2020, writing pieces for both online and the magazine. An encyclopedia of football shirts and boots knowledge – both past and present – Mark has also been to the FA Cup and League Cup finals for FFT and has written pieces for the mag ranging on subjects from Bobby Robson's season at Barcelona to Robinho's career. He once saw Tyrone Mings at a petrol station in Bournemouth but felt far too short to ask for a photo.