Vanishing spray joins goal technology at World Cup
After introducing technology it hopes will do away with phantom
goals at the World Cup, FIFA will try to prevent crafty defenders
from creeping in on free kicks at next year’s tournament in
FIFA President Sepp Blatter said Thursday that a vanishing spray
currently being used at the Club World Cup to designate distances
for free kicks will be used at next June’s tournament.
”We started using it in all competitions this year and at the
World Cup we will definitely keep on the same path,” Blatter said
Thursday. ”For the discipline of the game, it’s good. I was
skeptical at first, but after talking to referees who used this
system, they were all happy with it.”
Referees have been spraying the water-based, shaving cream-like
foam on fields in Morocco to ensure players lining up a defensive
wall against a free kick respect the 10-yard distance to the spot
of the infraction. A circle is sprayed at the kick spot to keep
attackers from rolling the ball forward.
”The representative of Bayern Munich said that here they can
take free kicks with the wall nine meters away, while at home it’s
only five,” Blatter said. ”It’s a novelty.”
Goal-line technology is being used in Morocco and will be in
place for the World Cup.
When notified by The Associated Press that his spray product
would be used in Brazil, developer Pablo Silva was overwhelmed over
a product six years in the making.
”We’ve climbed a long, steep curve to get here,” Silva told
the AP. ”Economically, this will be very important for us, but
what makes us most proud is that the product will be recognized at
an international level. You can’t put a price on that.”
Silva said Argentina Football Federation president Julio
Grondona was instrumental in introducing the spray – termed 9:15
for its distance in meters – into the country’s domestic
It made its debut in a September 2008 second-division match
between Los Andes and Chacarita Jr. and eventually was introduced
to other tiers.
Use in the Copa Sudamericana, Copa Libertadores and Major League
Soccer followed before the International Football Association Board
authorized the spray. It was introduced by FIFA at its Under-20
World Cup this year.
The idea, an Argentina-Brazil collaboration, came to Silva while
”We were losing 1-0 and had a free kick, and as I stood over it
I knew I could make this left-footed shot and even the game. But
when I finally took my shot, the ball struck the defender in the
stomach as he was just 3 meters away,” Silva said. ”I was in a
rage, and I ran straight to the referee, who would eventually show
me a red card for protesting. And that’s when it came to me.”
Referees have approved of the spray, according to Silva. He
repeatedly holds workshops to educate them on how to apply the
lines and spots correctly. It works on all surfaces, and he is
developing an orange color for use on snow.
”If you hold it too high, the line is too thin and disappears
quickly, and if you hold it too close, it’s too thick. So you have
to delicately draw with it,” Silva said. ”It’s not harmful to the
players, the field or the ozone.”
While Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola was happy with the
water-based spray, which disappears from any surface within
minutes, former Italian national team coach Marcelo Lippi was wary
about its influence on referees.
”It’s an intelligent thing. It can be useful only at the point
where the referees actually measures the distance between the
attackers and the line,” Lippi said. ”Twice I saw a 15-meter
difference, which is way too much.”
Silva intends to have a pin at hand when the spray is used at
World Cup opener between Brazil and Croatia in Sao Paulo on June
”Just to make sure I’m not dreaming,” he said.
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