The world cup championships started with colourful fanfare, expectations and excitement. And amongst many this year, one of its features was the rather awkward introduction of a ?spray? during matches? a vanishing spray.

If you watched the Brazil-Croatia opening match on Thursday for instance, you might have seen a referee pull out a spray can and make white markings on the field during a free kick.

In case you were wondering what that was, it?s a piece of goal-line technology meant to solve some popular problems when a free kick is awarded. The ?Vanishing Spray? is a tool used by the referee to effectively manage free kicks. How?

He sprays a circle around the ball?s location and then extends 10 yards away where he sprays a line to mark the point where defenders are to stand behind.

The spray looks like a foamy white substance and is made to ensure fair play in the games and the referee has one minute to execute the free kick because the spray disappears within a minute. A plus is that the spray can is conveniently carried by the referee and presents no distraction from his normal job during the games.

Twitter fans might have seen the way the spray made hits on the social network.

Watching a referee spray the field in this manner could look quite unusual but it actually is a solution to a popular problem in football matches?

When a free kick is awarded, the opposing defence is supposed to remain at least 10 yards away from the ball. As a football fan, you would know that this rule is very hard to keep both for players and referees alike because there has not been a verifiable means of telling if the defence has jumped into the range or not. This has led to plenty of arguments about fairness in games.

The idea of the ?Vanishing Spray? was that of Argentinian journalist and entrepreneur Pablo Silva.

And though it seems all new? “It started seven or eight years ago when I was playing in a championship played amongst former school members,” Silva told Reuters.

“In the 88th minute, we were losing 1-0 and won a free kick on the edge of the area. When I took the kick, the wall (of opposing players) was three meters away. The referee didn’t book anyone and didn’t do anything. We lost the game and driving home later, with a mixture of anger and bitterness, I thought that we must invent something to stop this.”- CNN Tech

The vanishing spray is said to have had its first use at the 2011 Copa America tournament.

Come to think of it? it does actually serve two purposes.

Remember the referee sprays a circle around the ball. This instance would prevent the striker who is taking the shot from attempting to get any closer to the goal post or from slightly repositioning for a better shot.

And secondly, the more obvious purpose is as said- preventing defence from encroaching into the 10 yard minimum distance limit.

These are usually cheeky moves made by players when the referee turns his back against them.

“We find the vanishing spray to be extremely useful and very effective in ensuring the defenders are 10 yards from the ball,” said Paul Rejer, training and development manager for the Professional Referees Organization, which supplies officials for MLS.


– CNN Tech

By Olatunji Makanjuola


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