World Cup 2014: Spray’s the way to try to force players into toeing the line and Cristiano Ronaldo is a fan

On Thursday Yuichi Nishimura put down the first line in World Cup history

Rio de janeiro

It’s Colombia to the north that’s more readily associated with vanishing white lines, but the white spray being painted by referees on to Brazil’s World Cup pitches has already left an indelible mark on the game, though not the grass.

With the riot police outside putting their tear-gas canisters back in their holsters, Japanese referee Yuichi Nishimura took his own spray-can out from a holster on his belt and put down the first line in World Cup history.

It was shortly before the end of the first half of the tournament’s opening match on Thursday when he awarded Brazil a free-kick against Croatia 25 yards from goal. The line, drawn 10 yards from the ball, is intended to stop defenders creeping or rushing forward when an attacking free-kick is taken, which it is hoped will lead to more goals being scored direct from free-kicks.

In the end, the Brazilian free-kick went wide of the target. In the past 10 years or so, major tournaments have been extremely low on goals resulting from direct free-kicks, but with the advent of these little spray- cans, that may change.

There are few sights more joyous in football than a magisterial free-kick bent into the top corner of the net. To do this, players almost always have to get the ball over a wall of defenders, but not so high as to prevent it dipping back down again and into the goal. If the wall is too close, this becomes much harder to achieve.

However, the evidence is clear so far that the white-line tactic is proving only partially successful. Defenders dutifully line up behind the spray, but when the attacker begins his run-up they have been moving forward, ending up over the line by the time boot strikes ball.

The so called “vanishing spray”, a type of foam that disappears in under a minute, has been a novel sight for European viewers, but has been in use in Brazilian domestic leagues for eight years.

Pablo Silva, an Argentinian journalist, claims to have invented the spray after having the idea when driving home in a rage after seeing the opposition defence charge forward and block his crucial free-kick in an old boys’ tournament.

“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 metres 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,” he explained.

The spray’s brand name is 9:15 Fairplay, 9:15 being 10 yards expressed in metres. Cristiano Ronaldo, who will certainly be hoping to bury a few free-kicks of his own for Portugal over the next few weeks, has called it “a great idea”, and it has been welcomed by many other players as well.

But quite how much of a game-changer it will prove to be is open to question. In the 2010 World Cup there were just five goals scored directly from free-kicks, out of a total of 145 goals in the whole tournament. In 2010 and 2006 there were nine.

In the leagues where the spray is already in use – in Brazil, Argentina and also Major League Soccer in the US – there is no conclusive evidence that adopting its use has resulted in more goals from free-kicks.

 

There are no plans as yet to introduce it to the Premier League, though there is already a clamour to do so. But if World Cup 2014 does after all leave us with indelible memories of a plethora of screaming free-kicks, you can be sure the spray will be here to stay.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future