During a soccer game, the referee will have to make sure that the whole game is going smoothly and that there is little to no time wasted during the soccer match.
For that reason, the referees are given a set of tools that they can use throughout the match in order to help them communicate their orders and decisions to the players on the field.
For example, the assistant referees have flags, the main referee has the whistle, the communication devices, and recently they got the spray.
But what exactly do the referees use the spray for?
The referees use the spray in order to make sure that there is no time wasted while performing a free kick and to make sure that none of the teams are cheating during a free kick. Using the spray will force the defense wall to stay where the referee wants them to stay.
So, in simple words, the spray helps the referee to make sure that none of the players on the field can trick them while they’re not looking.
Why was the spray in soccer introduced?
During a soccer free kick, the offensive team picks one of their team players to perform the kick while the defensive team is allowed to have a wall of players standing a few meters away from the place where the ball will be kicked from.
The job of the wall of players is to make sure that the opponent who’s going to kick the soccer ball does not score. They stand in front of them hoping that the ball hits them instead of advancing further towards their goal.
But here’s the deal, the soccer rules require that the wall be at least 10 yards (9.15 meters) away from the position of the ball during the free kick.
What the referee has to do is to estimate that distance and tell the players where to stand if they want to create a wall to block the kick.
Before introducing the spray, what the players standing as wall usually tried to do is to move a little bit closer to the ball whenever the referee turned their back. This will make it harder for the player performing the free kick to score.
Also, the player performing the kick could just move the ball to a better position whenever the referee isn’t looking. This can give them an advantage when they perform the kick.
The referee could sometimes notice the players who were trying to trick them and they would ask them again to go back to their initial position. This kind of behavior has wasted a lot of time during many free kicks.
So, in order to prevent that from happening, FIFA decided to use the spray as a tool for the referees to mark where each of the players need to stand during a free kick.
The referee usually draws a line with their spray to indicate where the wall should be, and they also draw a circle around the ball to indicate where the ball should be positioned during the free kick.
When the spray is used, none of the players keep trying to do any tricks because they will be immediately caught by the referee.
This helped reduce the delay during all free kicks, and it made sure that no more cheating occurs.
When was the referee’s spray introduced in soccer?
The spray was used in the 2014 World Cup. Soccer fans were initially surprised by the usage of a spray that looks like a shaving cream and everyone was talking about it.
Later, the referees were using the spray more and more during soccer matches, and today, the spray is used in almost all of the top soccer leagues and competitions around the world.
However, it’s worth noting that the spray was used in a professional soccer match even before the 2014’s world cup.
The spray was used in the American soccer league. The Major Soccer League decided to adopt the usage of sprays for referees when they noticed their success during the Copa America international soccer competition.
Later in 2014, the whole world got the chance to see the referee’s spray in action during the world cup.
What is the spray made of?
The spray contains a mixture of gases, water, and other chemical materials. Once the spray is used, it draws clearly visible lines that usually disappear within a minute.
For that reason, the spray is well known as the “Vanishing Spray” or the “Magic Spray”. After around a minute, the drawn line disappears and becomes water.
It is claimed that the chemicals that come out of the spray are not toxic and that they do not hurt the players in any way.
However, the German inspection of the spray concluded that the spray might be a health risk and that there will be some concerns when it comes to using it in the Bundesliga(the main soccer league in Germany)
Whether the spray is a health risk or not, it is currently being used a lot in the major soccer leagues around the world and it has proven to be very effective during soccer free kicks.
With that said, I’ll end this article here with a quick summary.
The vanishing spray is used by referees in soccer during a free kick in order to ensure that none of the players on the field try to cheat during the free kick, and in order to reduce the delay in all free kicks during a soccer match.