ALAN VACCARO / AIPS* in DUBAI: The destiny of yet another new tool being tested by referees in the FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013 will depend on an end-of-year report and a review of officials’ opinions.

This is not goal-line technology but the vanishing spray used at the current finals to ‘fix’ a defensive wall in place at free kicks around the edge of the penalty area.

Manuel Navarro, who works with former FIFA referee Massimo Busacca on assessment and selection of referees for the FIFA World Cup Brazil 2014, told AIPS Young Reporters all about the latest weapon in the officials’ armoury.

“We are testing the spray to know if it can stay in all the FIFA tournaments in the future,” said Navarro. That would, of course, include the biggest football event of all in South America next year.

Used already in CONMEBOL and Mexico, the spray attained 84 percent referee approval after its use at the FIFA U-20 finals in Turkey this year.

Personality puzzle

The critical 16 percent objected on the grounds of either irrelevance or awkwardness. As Navarro put it: “They said: ‘Why do need this to mark the 9.15m when we controlled it with our personalities before?'”

Some referees also complained that they were becoming pack horses with the amount of equipment they are expected to wear and/or carry. They considered the spray can an encumbrance too far.

The 21 refereeing trios who have been working for the tournament in the UAE had a technical session to know where and how to use it – for a free kick facing the penalty area, for example.

Referees have discretion over when, where and if to use the spray. Howeve, since this tournament is providing feedback Navarro wants it used as much as possible. European referees, who do not use the spray, have a tendency to forget in the heat of the game.

Navarro said: “They have the order to wear it in every game, then it’s on their decision to use it or not. Of course they sometimes forget it, mostly the European referees. Then we can give them a reminder through the headset.”


* AIPS, the international sports journalists association, is running a Young Reporters course at the FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013 with the support of the local organising committee and FIFA

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