by Carlos E. Castañeda

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — One of the newer aspects of international soccer on display at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil will be the use by referees of vanishing spray to mark areas on the field.

The spray, essentially a form of shaving cream, is carried on a belt by referees to mark off 10 yards from the point of a free kick near an opponents’ goal. It has comes into use in recent years by elite level regional and international leagues.

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The white foam disappears within a few minutes. Its use is designed to speed up play by ending the practice of defenders encroaching closer to the spot of the kick, forcing the referee to intervene and reset the distance.

The foam makes its debut on the World Cup stage beginning Thursday.



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On his daily chat with the KCBS News morning crew, former Oakland Raiders coach and NFL broadcaster John Madden acknowledged the spray is good tool for those who are more bothered by the encroachment than others.

“We’ll you know that’s only true if you have been, over the years, bothered by a ‘scooch-up,’ said Madden. “And a scooch-up has been one of those things I never worried about.”

“I mean I’ve never played or coached a game and said, ‘No scooching up! Hey, they’re scooching up!’”

“So if scooching up is the thing we have to stop, they don’t have too many problems.”

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There have been critics, including within the referee community, who say use of the disappearing foam is the result of referees not adequately enforcing current soccer rules on encroachment and maintaining the 10-foot distance.