Lasers in football may sound like a gimmicky pair of electric green boots promoted by Rooney and co but it’s becoming a growing concern in modern day football.
No, not that laser eye treatment.
It has also gradually become more frequent; when Ronaldo sizes up a free kick or Julio Cesar tries to keep his cool before a penalty the pointer lasers are there for all to see – captured by the television cameras time and time again.
But the problem hasn’t been addressed by the governing bodies properly. It has yet to be dealt with.
Opposing fans in the stands are trying their utmost to hinder the enemy by dazzling them with an intense light directly into their unsuspected pupils. The players try their best to ignore the fans’ attempts but sooner or later someone will be hurt by the damaging light and action must be taken before it gets out of hand.
Most recently the Indonesian president has said an official protest will be lodged with the Asian Football Federation about the alleged use of laser beams in an international against Malaysia.
Indonesia lost 3-0 in the first leg in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday and President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono spoke on behalf of disgruntled fans and players as they complained about the Suzuki Cup final match.
This is just the tip of the iceberg and has only come to the attention of the masses as the fierce footballing rivalry represents one of the many spats between Indonesia and Malaysia.
The incident kicked off in the second half of Sunday’s game when the Indonesian team claimed that Malaysian supporters had shone lasers directly into players’ faces, including the captain, at several corner kicks, and the goalkeeper.
The game was halted for eight minutes as Indonesia’s players left the pitch but when play resumed, Malaysia scored three goals in just under 12 minutes. Cue uproar.
It may not seem like a huge deal but the repercussions of lasers in the eye biggest concern with laser pointers causing temporary optical problems. These issues include flash blindness, glare, and afterimages. While it only lasts for a few seconds, it can be extremely dangerous when someone is involved in a task which requires vision, such as partaking in sporting activity.
There are long-standing side effects too. Afterimages can last for several days, and take the form of small spots in the vision. Glare, a reduction of visibility caused by bright light, occurs while the laser pointer is directed at the eyes.
Fortunately, the eye problems most commonly associated with laser pointers do not take the form of permanent damage. More profound optical damage can also result, if the exposure is prolonged. Most laser pointers have a very low power output, but when it is focused on the retina through the lens of the eye, it can cause damage. Continuously staring into a laser pointer through a fully dilated eye for over one minute may cause a retinal burn.
This is not a huge issue in England but Chelsea striker Didier Drogba did fall victim to a laser in a league game against London rivals West Ham United in 2007. After the incident, the incensed Ivorian said: “It’s difficult as you see this green light.”
“This is a stupid fan I think. The rest of the West Ham fans were good. I think they supported their team. That’s what we want to see in the stadium, not these kinds of things.”
Another isolated incident involved Manchester United in last seasons Champions League tie against Turkish side Besiktas.
The United players had to cope with a rogue Besiktas fan trying to upset their concentration by pointing a laser in their direction.
“It was in the first half, although thankfully the police did something about it,” explained United boss Sir Alex Ferguson.
“They managed to get the culprit, which is good because I noticed it particularly on Jonny Evans. It seemed to be on him all the time.”
Fifa were forced to take action against Greece over the alleged use of lasers by fans during a World Cup qualifier last year.
Greek supporters are reported to have tried to distract Israel goalkeeper Dudu Aouate with laser beams during their 2-1 win in Heraklion. However, no action was taken.
With this problem steadily growing, especially abroad, the bigwigs at Fifa will have to take affirmative action sooner rather than later before some serious damage is done.