Vanishing spray paint, which became immensely popular during the World Cup in Brazil, will become a permanent fixture in the game it has forever changed: European football.
After a successful trial period, the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) Referees Committee has approved use of the paint to mark temporary lines for UEFA games, the association announced Friday (Aug. 8).
Referees use the paint to mark the line that defenders can't cross during a free kick—a formerly invisible boundary that allowed teams shuffling "penguin walk" encroachment and controversy.
Instagram / 915fairplay
UEFA has approved and started using vanishing spray paint in its games. The paint, made by 915 Fairplay, made its first appearance in the World Cup.
UEFA is the administrative body that represents national football associations in Europe and parts of Asia.
The paint was used for the first time Tuesday (Aug. 12) in a UEFA club competition in the UEFA Super Cup game between Real Madrid CF and Sevilla FC.
Reaffirming Fair Play
The paint, 9.15 Fairplay, is the sole product of the company by the same name. The firm's passionate owners credit historic cooperation by archrivals Brazil and Argentina in perfecting the product and bringing it to market.
The spray "began its history in 2000 in Brazil and its tests in Argentina in 2004," the company says on its website. "The Brazilian Heine Allemagne and the Argentinean Pablo Silva in 2006 joined their efforts and technical qualities of their creations to make the ideal tool that, in the year 2012, was approved by the International Board for all federations in the world."
Silva, an Argentine journalist, is credited with developing the first commercially viable version of the spray; Allemagne, an inventor, was the first to patent it. The product's name refers to the distances required of the free kick in metric terms.
The spray, whose formulation is a closely held secret, has been tested in more than 18,000 professional games, the company says. Its introduction has speeded up play, allowed more goals, reduced Yellow Cards, and "reaffirmed Fair Play on the field."
North American soccer has used the paint for years (MLS fans call it "felony foam"), but FIFA officials had resisted its use.
The spray has been used in North American matches for years, where some fans call it "felony foam," heavy.com reports. But the president of FIFA said in 2010 that such technologies “had no place in football.”
That has changed.
"This spray is very useful," UEFA President Michel Platini said recently.
"After a successful test at the 2014 UEFA European Under-17 Championship in Malta, I am pleased that the Referees Committee decided to approve the use of the vanishing spray in our senior competitions," Platini said.
He praised the late president of the Argentina Football Association, Julio Grondona, who pushed the International Board to use the vanishing paint several years ago.
UEFA initially considered introducing the paint in Lisbon last February, according to Pierluigi Collina, UEFA's chief refereeing officer.
World Cup Help
Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) referees used a vanishing spray paint at this year's World Cup in Brazil. The paint made its first appearance during the opening match June 12 between Brazil and Croatia and quickly became an Internet sensation.
"As we all saw at the World Cup, this spray was very useful in helping the referee in free-kick situations, and I am sure we will see similar results in our matches this season," Platini noted.
Referees used the paint to mark off an area defenders can't cross during a free kick, which can be awarded after stopping play for an infraction. When a free kick is awarded, the team resumes play from the spot of the foul with a pass or shot at the goal, and the opposing team must be at least 10 yards away when the ball is kicked.
However, opposing players often sneak closer than 10 yards, which has frequently started arguments over fairness.
"In my opinion, there is no doubt that the spray allows the referees to have an easier control in free-kick situations, as players cannot try to make the wall distance shorter by using the so-called 'penguin walk' tactic," Collina said.