World Cup spray could be used in Premier League and Europe
English clubs to discuss introducing the vanishing spray that has been a hit in Brazil
The Brazil World Cup has produced plenty of excitement, but one of the most enduring images will be that of referees unexpectedly (for European fans at least) producing a magic spray can from their belts to position free kicks and defensive walls.
The ingenious idea, developed by a Brazilian and used in competitions in South America for years, was sanctioned by Fifa in 2012. Now, after its success at the World Cup, it is set to be introduced on this side of the Atlantic.
According to some sources, including Sky Sports, the spray is to be used in the Champions League and Europa League next season, although a Uefa official told The Times: "A decision on whether it will be considered for use in future Uefa competitions will be taken after the World Cup."
The Times also reports that the spray could make an appearance in the Premier League. "The possible introduction is to be discussed by the 20 top-flight clubs at their next shareholders' meeting," says the paper, although it notes that the meeting is not until next month, meaning it is unlikely that it will be adopted in time for next season, which begins on 16 August.
"The spray has been praised widely by referees on the grounds that it has a clear preventative effect and means they do not end up having to hand out yellow cards to players who fail to respect the distance," adds the paper.
The cannisters of foam are the brainchild of Heine Allemagne, who came up with the idea in 2000. His invention "could hardly be more simple," says Eurosport. "The referee sprays a line of biodegradable foam derived from vegetable oil in a line on the pitch indicating where the players must stand at a freekick, and that line disappears within a minute or two."
He came up with the idea after becoming "increasingly irritated by the time-wasting that surrounded every free kick at every level of the game". He says he has no commercial ambitions for the spray and donated 320 cans to Fifa for the tournament and bore the cost, around £1,000, himself.
He adds that despite the innovation's popularity with referees, it did not win over everyone at Fifa.
"Some people needed convincing," he says. "[Sepp] Blatter was sceptical in the beginning but then realised this solved a football problem. Some people did not think it was necessary or would act as enough deterrent to keep people behind the line. But they changed their minds."