By Sir Hardly Anyone
Vanishing spray first hit the agenda in Brazil in 2014 when it was used in the world cup. And anyone looking at the story’s history would have noted the reports that the spray had been used in Brazil for quite some time. Fifa took up the notion of the vanishing spray and then it became popular across the world.
Which is hardly a very exciting story, except for one little detail. Fifa failed to pay for the right to use the vanishing spray and instead, in its customary imperious manner, simply stole it, and ignored the claims of the company that had developed the invention.
Of course, such a situation was so unbelievable for the UK press that they refused to publish the claims of the Brazilian inventors, and even now are highly reluctant to touch the story because it lays bare just how deeply the English media are into the pockets of Fifa when it comes to international news coverage
But then in 2017, the New York Times ran a piece (again ignored by the kowtowing English press) which said, “Just when it appeared that FIFA, the governing body of world soccer, was emerging from its morass of legal problems, the organization is back in trouble with the law.” (Oh and don’t worry about that “morass of legal problems” – they weren’t reported in England either.
“FIFA robbed my idea; this is anti fair play,” said Heine Allemagne, inventor of the aforementioned foam, which gained international renown after being used at the 2014 World Cup,” the report continued.
Then, after a series of petitions for FIFA to respect the rights of the owners, a Rio de Janeiro court acknowledged that there was indeed a patent for vanishing spray in 44 countries. “The court ordered Fifa to stop using the spray in any of its competitions or risk a fine of $15,000 per game,” announced the paper.
But Fifa rejected the ruling and claimed, “the dispute was continuing.” And that was most certainly true, because Fifa then spent $100 million in legal fees fighting a variety of cases including a whole wadge of corruption cases.
But all the time the spray was patented under the name 9.15 Fair Play Limit. Various South American leagues had used it extensively and had paid for use of the patent prior to 2014 World Cup when Fifa stole the recipe (as it were) and the UK press refused to report yet another piece of criminal skullduggery by Fifa.
Now to be fair we must add that the New York Times reported that Fifa offered $500,000 to buy the patent five months before the 2014 World Cup. The deal then broke down despite the foam company providing free canisters of foam for the world cup finals. But to add insult to injury Fifa concealed the name of the maker on the cans, so no one knew where they came from.
Fifa then announced that the foam was indeed a great success but its general secretary Jérôme Valcke said that FIFA was not willing to buy the patent despite earlier saying it was.
It is reported that the owner of the patent expressed the hope that when Gianni Infantino came to power he would act in better faith than his predecessor. It was at this point that compilation of this article was suspended for several hours as various members of the editorial team of Untold had to be treated by medics for conditions ranging from uncontrolled hysterical laughing to sobbing.
But the owners of the patent kept on demanding their rights, until in the end Fifa’s lawyers wrote to the company’s lawyers saying Fifa “has no more patience in this matter,” and would not negotiate any further. This week the Brazillian courts ruled however that the existence of patents was beyond doubt.
Yet there is worse to come, because since Fifa rejected the claims, the members of Fifa, including the FA and through them the Football Leagues have been continuing to use the spray without paying for a licence. But now the result has been reversed and Fifa have been shown to be the thieves in the matter – knowingly infringing the patent for years.
Now what are the chances of that? I wonder if the FA have ever thought to ask how much of the money they plough into Fifa each year is spent on futile court cases?
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