Referees will use a vanishing spray at next summer’s World Cup to stop defensive walls creeping forward at free-kicks.
Fifa’s president, Sepp Blatter, said yesterday the spray, developed in Brazil and Argentina, had received a positive reception while being used at the Club World Cup, which has been taking place in Morocco.
“I think it’s a very good solution,” Blatter said. “Some say it takes too much time and I was also quite sceptical at the beginning but... all the referees who have used the system were pleased with it.”
When a free-kick is awarded near the penalty area, the referee paces the regulatory 10 yards from where the ball has been placed and then sprays a line on the pitch to mark the correct position where the defensive wall should stand. The line then disappears from the pitch within a minute.
The spray has been used for several years in Argentina and Brazil, where it is generally accepted that it has reduced the amount of arguing over where the wall should line up as well as preventing encroachment.
“It’s a novelty,” Blatter added. “We will start using it in the World Cup in Brazil.”
However, there have been some disputes about the system used at the Club World Cup. Marcello Lippi, coach of the Asian champions Guangzhou Evergrande, complained after his team’s 3-0 semi-final defeat to Bayern Munich that the referee had not been measuring the distance correctly. “The wall was 15 metres from the ball,” Lippi said.
Meanwhile, Ronaldinho’s hope that a good performance at the Club World Cup might earn a Brazil recall have been dashed by Atletico Mineiro’s shock elimination in the other semi-final at the hands of Raja Casablanca.
The former World Player of the Year gave two tantalising glimpses of his unique talent, scoring Atletico’s only goal in the 3-1 defeat with an exquisite free-kick and then executing a cheeky flick of the ball over an opponent.
For most of the game, however, Ronaldinho, 33, looked off the pace and ponderous as the ageing South American champions were upstaged by a team of run-of-the-mill Moroccan league players.
Raja Casablanca now meet Bayern Munich in tomorrow’s final.