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Monday, November 3, 2014

game changing 'vanishing spray' technology in Football

Games certainly have changed from the way they have been played a century ago – though Sachin Tendulkar was dubbed as Modern Bradman – I have always felt that there cannot be comparisons of two great players of two different eras ….. now a days, there is so much played before the real start, the computer-aided analysis, the techno- support and more. There have been great innovations, changes in rules and technological support that includes spider camera, snickometer, and the lime….

Some have been ‘game changing’ ……… for example – the goal line technology, which can accurately say whether the ball has crossed the goal line or not, there by putting end to unending debates.  Goal line technology (GLT) is a method used to determine when [or whether]  the ball has slightly crossed the goal line with the assistance of electronic devices and at the same time assisting the referee in awarding a goal or not. The objective of goal-line technology (GLT) is not to replace the role of the officials, but rather to support them in their decision-making.  In July 2012, the International Football Association Board (IFAB) officially approved the use of goal line technology.  Goal-line technology was also implemented for the 2014 FIFA World Cup held in Brazil whereby the GoalControl system was installed in each of the 12 stadiums.

There was another- the  ‘vanishing foam’ - a substance applied to an athletic field in order to provide a temporary visual marker. Used mainly at the highest levels of competition, vanishing foam is said to help prevent unnecessary delays by preventing the defensive team from encroaching closer than the mandated 10 yards (9.1 m) from the ball during a free kick, and also by preventing the attacking team from illegally moving the ball from the spot where the referee awarded the kick.

In 2000, Brazilian inventor Heine Allemagne developed the spray by the name "Spuny". Its first use in a professional level was in the 2001 Brazilian Championship, Copa João Havelange.  Referees unanimously approved its use and the spray was since adopted in Brazilian competitions. "Spuny" has been patented by its inventor since October 2002.   Since then, the spray has been used in many international football competitions. In June 2014 the spray's latest commercial version, "9-15", made its debut in the FIFA 2014 World Cup. It was developed by Argentinian entrepreneur Pablo Silva.    The 2011 Copa América tournament was the first tournament for national teams to use the spray. Its success caused it to be adopted by several national leagues in 2011 in America, including Major League Soccer. The first World Cup match to feature the vanishing spray was the opening game of the 2014 FIFA World Cup between Brazil and Croatia on 12 June, 2014 used by referee Yuichi Nishimura.  However Germany's consumer protection agency has banned the product due to greenhouse gas concerns.

Those who the  opening Brazil-Croatia match in FIFA watched it – before the free kick in the first half, the  referee pulled a spray can out of a holster and squirted a white line on the field. It was no graffiti – it was to be a temporary white line 10 yards from the free kick spot, marking the safe area into which opposing players cannot encroach. Although they're supposed to remain 10 yards away, opposing players have frequently crept closer to the free-kick taker in an effort to disrupt the kick, starting countless arguments about fairness.

The vanishing spray is called 9:15 Fairplay, or 10 yards expressed in meters.  Some immediately acknowledged that the vanishing spray is proving to be extremely useful and effective in ensuring defenders keep 10 yards away from the ball.  The spray makes it clear where the ball is to be placed and where the defenders have to stand.  It further prevents players taking free kicks from moving the ball forward.

The use of the vanishing spray is conducive to the goal of refereeing by facilitating the execution of referees’ duties and has had an undeniable positive impact on soccer. For instance, it prevents the recurrent, unnecessary and tiresome disputes about the location of the defensive wall and the ball during free kicks as well as the ensuing irritation of everyone involved. Clearly, in front of the manifestly visible marks made possible by the vanishing spray, players are more respectful of the distance between the ball and the defensive wall stipulated by referees. In turn, this increases playing time, favours the flow of the game, and potentially leads to more goals scored from free kicks.

The technology  guarantees competitive fairness by allowing referees to enforce the rules of the game more effectively. In other words, the vanishing spray furthers the conditions of fairness advocated in the rule book. It obviously neutralizes the attempt to obtain an illegitimate advantage (the encroaching of the defensive wall and the moving forward of the ball). Before its implementation, critics argued that the vanishing spray would not work because players were accustomed to try to get an illegitimate advantage during free kicks by either creeping forward if they are on the defensive wall or by moving the ball forward if they are taking the free kick. Since its implementation, however, even if not perfect, the vanishing spray has proved to be effective in deterring such prohibited moves. That is, it has promoted a beneficial change in players’ behaviour. For fans of South American football, the foam spray is nothing new, having been used in league matches on the continent for some years, but for the huge global audience, these are bold new days.

According to LiveScience it is: “a mixture of butane, isobutane and propane gas; a foaming agent; water; and other chemicals. "When it leaves the can, the gas depressurizes and expands, creating small, water-covered droplets on the field. The butane mixture later evaporates, leaving only water and surfactant residue behind.”

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

13th Oct 2014.

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