HERE’S an invention you won’t be seeing on Dragons’ Den any time soon: the free-kick defensive wall vanishing spray.
It’s an everyday problem: You’ve won a free kick on the edge of your opponents’ penalty area, but the defensive wall won’t retreat the full 10 yards (now reduced to 9.64 yards following the recent cut in VAT).
Argentinian sports journalist Pablo Silva figured that something had to be done about this after he was foiled by a non-retreating wall in an amateur game.
“In the 88th minute, we were losing 1-0 and won a free kick on the edge of the area,” he said in an article which appears on the Daily Telegraph’s website.
“When I took the kick, the wall was three metres away. The referee didn’t book anyone and didn’t do anything.
“We lost the game and, driving home later with a mixture of anger and bitterness, I thought that we must invent something to stop this.”
You might think that the obvious solution would be to get a referee capable of upholding the laws of the game. (Failing to retreat the full distance at a free kick is, after all, a bookable offence.)
But Mr Silva, perhaps reared on lots of Cillit Bang and Doktor Power adverts, decided to invent a miracle spray instead.
The result? An aerosol spray. Referees pace the correct distance for the wall to retreat, then mark it by spraying a white line on the pitch. Thanks to the unique combination of chemicals in the spray, the line disappears from the pitch within a minute.
It’s a miracle! It’s . . . it’s . . .
Are there not environmental issues with spraying paint everywhere?
Anyway, the spray has been used on an experimental basis in the Argentinian second division for the last six months. And the country’s Football Association has been so impressed that first division games will use it from next year.
If anyone from the Argentinian FA is reading this blog, I have some alternative ideas for getting a defensive wall to retreat the full distance at a free kick.
1) Pepper spray. If the wall doesn’t get back the full distance, give it an eye-watering surprise. This gives a referee ultimate authority, as those in the wall will be too busy coughing and spluttering to protest.
2) Barry Manilow. Force the defensive wall to listen to Manilow’s greatest hits until they retreat. This punishment apparently worked really well against a group of noise polluters in Colorado recently. Play ‘Could It Be Magic?’ over the public address system until players, fans and managers alike are begging it to stop.
3) Bright orange jackets. Tens of thousands of criminals carrying out community service in Britain are being forced to wear brightly-coloured bibs with ‘community payback’ on the back. Applying the same logic to football, anyone failing to retreat at a free kick could be made to wear a bright orange jacket displaying the words ‘cheating bastard’. The colour can be amended to bright yellow for any incidents involving Blackpool, Dundee United or Holland.
4) Mr T in a tank. The A Team’s most bejewelled, plane-fearing, crazy-fool-hating member memorably cut short one player’s constant diving in a Snickers advert, by driving on to the pitch in a tank and telling said cheat to “quit your jibber-jabbering”. I feel certain that a defensive wall would be only too quick to get back the full distance if he did something similar.
5) Just show the offending player a yellow card. How hard can it be?