ZURICH (Reuters) - An aerosol spray to help referees mark where defensive walls should line up at free kicks is being used in a FIFA tournament for the first time at the Under-20 World Cup which kicked off in Turkey on Friday.
Referees at the event can use the spray to mark the spot where a free kick should be taken as well as where the wall should stand 9.15 metres away to prevent encroaching.
"To have made a debut in a FIFA World Cup is undoubtedly the most important step we've taken together with the approval given us by IFAB (the International FA Board)," the spray's Argentine inventor and producer Pablo Silva told Reuters.
The spray, approved by football's rule-making body IFAB in March 2012 for use in any competition worldwide, has been in use in South America in the region's top club competition, the Libertadores Cup, and at domestic league level.
"This obliges us to redouble our efforts so that, if all goes well, we can get to the World Cup in Brazil next year," said Silva, who markets the spray as "Aerosol 9-15".
The spray, which comes in a small aerosol canister, disappears between 45 seconds and two minutes after being applied and can be used on any playing surface.
Football's world governing body FIFA said on its website (www.fifa.com) that all the referees at the under-20 tournament are on a list of candidates to officiate at the senior World Cup finals in Brazil next year.
Silva introduced his spray to leading referees at a recent seminar in Rio de Janeiro ahead of the Confederations Cup and said the European delegates, who had not previously seen it, were impressed.
He invented it after playing in an amateur match in which the wall came within five metres as he took a free kick and the referee let play continue and did not heed his complaints.
Reporting by Rex Gowar in London; editing by Ken Ferris