By Andrew Warshaw
December 20 – The self-proclaimed Brazilian inventor of football’s vanishing spray, which has become an integral part of the game, is persuing FIFA for proper compensation after accusing the organisation of stealing his idea.
“FIFA robbed my idea; this is anti fair play,” Heine Allemagne was quoted as saying by the New York Times which reports that after years of unsuccessful attempts to get FIFA to respect his rights, a Rio de Janeiro court has acknowledged his patent in 44 countries and ordered FIFA to stop using the spray in any of its competitions or risk a fine of $15,000 per game.
Allemagne’s invention provides a 10-yard demarcation line, which quickly disappears, whenever a freekick is taken in order to prevent encroachment. He argues that FIFA has allowed other companies to produce and sell rival sprays for use in official tournaments.
In total Allemagne is reportedly claiming €84 million in compensation, three and a half years after the spray was introduced at the 2014 World Cup in his native Brazil.
Originally used at the Copa Belo Horizonte 2000 – a junior tournament in one of the 2014 World Cup host cities – the spray has proved one of football’s great success stories. Although it was subsequently used for many years in South America, the 2014 World Cup was the first time it was seen at a major international tournament.
That came after the International FA Board authorised the product to be used internationally following tests in 18,000 professional games. FIFA tested the spray, known as 9.15 Fair Play, at the Under-17 and Under-20 world championships in 2013 and it was also used at the Club World Cup before being introduced formally.
Allemagne, born and raised in the state of Minas Gerais where the World Cup semi-final between Brazil and Germany was played at Belo Horizonte’s Mineirao stadium, was working in TV and graphic design when he came up with idea. A keen amateur footballer, he said he was irritated by time-wasting and encroaching at freekicks.
“I am just a face in the crowd, someone from Minas Gerais who tackled a century-old problem,” he told reporters at the time. “It is literally a dream come true to see 9.15 Fair Play being used at this World Cup and seen by billions of people across the globe. The journey to get here has had its challenges but ultimately it has been hugely rewarding. I hope that 9.15 Fair Play continues to help referees around the world, from all levels of football, and improve the efficiency of the game.”
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