Vanishing Spray Is More Revolutionary Than Goal-Line Technology

Rowanne WesthenryFeatured ColumnistJune 21, 2014

NATAL, BRAZIL - JUNE 16: Referee Jonas Eriksson of Sweden sprays foam to mark the free kick distance during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group G match between Ghana and the United States at Estadio das Dunas on June 16, 2014 in Natal, Brazil.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
Michael Steele/Getty Images

The 2014 World Cup has thrown up more than its fair share of surprises so far. England have proven to be as good as Spain as both teams were knocked out after two games, Portugal look like suffering the same fate and FIFA have revealed a new weapon in the referees' arsenal in the form of a strange, shaving foam-like substance.

The so-called vanishing spray has been in use in South American leagues for several years. Deployed for free-kicks in the attacking half of the pitch, the referee is able to mark where the ball should be placed as well as the exact distance that the defending wall should be.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - JUNE 15: Referee Joel Aguilar sprays a temporary line for a free kick during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group F match between Argentina and Bosnia-Herzegovina at Maracana on June 15, 2014 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Encroaching walls and wandering free-kicks that are several yards away from where the foul took place are some of the biggest pet peeves for supporters. A survey found that the majority of fans around the world would like to see it introduced. If the spray could also be given to linesmen to solve the problem of players moving halfway up the pitch to take their throw-in, all of the little niggles in the game would be ironed out.

The spray was developed as a concept in the 1980s by a consortium of people with interests in football, including none other than Bobby Charlton. It was rejected by the English FA but was developed further by Argentinian journalist Pablo Silva and adopted in the domestic league in 2008. It has since been given the go-ahead for use in the 2014-15 Champions League season.

While the claim that it is more revolutionary than goal-line technology may seem a little over the top, consider its potential at all levels of the game.

One of Michel Platini's biggest arguments against goal-line technology is that it only benefits clubs with the finances and facilities to use it, per BBC Sport. You're unlikely to see the likes of Dagenham & Redbridge installing expensive cameras and monitors for a handful of incidents per season, but they can certainly stump up for a few cans of magic foam.

Obviously goal-line technology has a more visible impact on the result of games. The second goal for France vs. Honduras at this tournament is a testament to that. However, if a player takes a free-kick five yards away from the point where the foul took place, enabling him to get an angle on goal, surely that also has an impact on results?

Per BBC Sport, the FA and the Premier League have responded in the negative to calls for the introduction of the spray in the birthplace of football. Despite this, there is nothing stopping your local Sunday league side from giving it a go. If football is all about inclusion, shouldn't we give the spray a chance?