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

Brazil.

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

leagues.

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

playing soccer.

”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

12.

”Just to make sure I’m not dreaming,” he said.

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