It’s hard not to notice the white stuff that referees are spraying onto the field during the World Cup games during free kicks.
Defenders must be at least 10 yards away from the ball when a player takes a free kick, and it’s tough for refs to make them stay in place. If the ref turns around, the defenders will creep up.
The spray is a solution to that problem.
The water-based, shaving cream-like foam was thought up by Argentine journalist Pablo Silva, who was angered when playing with old school friends when they were creeping up on the kicks.
He teamed up with a chemistry engineer to develop the foam, which was first used in Argentina’s lower leagues in 2008 before moving up into bigger matches.
Its official name is 9:15, which expresses the 10-yard distance in meters.
“It’s been a very long process but now it’s the time of the wedding, of the dancing,” Silva told the Associated Press. “The spray has already been used in 15,000 official matches around the globe, but this is the World Cup.”
Referee Enrique Osses sprays a temporary line for a free kick as Japan forms a wall during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group C match between the Ivory Coast and Japan at Arena Pernambuco on June 14, 2014 in Recife, Brazil. (Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)
“At the start, we understand the problem was not the can or the mark, but carrying it,” Silva said. “But we created a holder and it’s impossible for the referee to have a problem with the spray.”
“It will assist us in getting the players back at a free kick and, in turn, that gives the attacking team a better opportunity of creating something from that set-piece,” English referee Howard Webb told BBC.
“Players respect it,” Australian ref Ben Williams added before the World Cup started. “It’s a great innovation and I’m looking forward to using it.”
The spray was not used at the 2010 World Cup.