Recently a referee made this call and I don’t beleive it to be correct. After a goal is scored the teams are getting ready to kick off. The referee notices a player with his shoe untied and tells him to tie it. The player does so and the referee waits until the player is bending down then blows the whistle to start play. I told my player to get up, the play was coming right at him as he was tying his shoe, and the referee told him to stay down and tie his shoe or he will get a yellow card for dangerous play. I told the player to get up, better a yellow than a kick in the head, the referee then stopped play to yell at me and said that the player being down was, “your problem coach not mine” . Should the player have been allowed to tie his shoe then play resume, since play was already stopped? Was the referee creating a dangerous situation, or is this a new rule?

Answer (June 6,, 2007):
We sometimes poke a little harmless fun at coaches for their “inventive” minds and ideas regarding the Laws of the Game. In this case, we have to do more than poke fun at this referee, who was certainly inventive, but definitely in the wrong on at least three counts: (1) The player should either have been sent from the field to tie his shoe or, more sensibly, the referee should have simply waited until the shoes were tied and then signaled for the kick-off. (2) If the referee were unintelligent enough to caution the player for this “offense,” it would have to be for unsporting behavior; there is no such thing as a caution for “dangerous play.” (3) The problem was created by the referee himself, not the player nor you, the coach. We apologize to you and your player(s) for the lack of wit, wisdom, and common sense of this referee.…


I’ve had a number of matches recently where players have had their shinguards fall out of their socks. These are the shinguards that just slip into the socks. I’m looking for a little guidance on how to deal with this as play continues. My guess is I can deal with an advantage situation for the team that didn’t lose the shinguards and immediately whistle (resulting in a dropped ball restart) if a player who loses his shinguards has an advantage. In my game yesterday, when a player lost his shinguards for the second time, I told him if it happened again I was going to send him off until he could figure out how to keep his shinguards on. When it happened again, he immediately stopped playing the ball and retrieved his shinguards (which I thought was a good solution and I told him this). This actually happened more than once after that, and he always retrieved his shinguards first.

Answer (June 6, 2007):
Safety of the competitors is the most important element of the game. Shinguards are a required item of player equipment and are meant solely for player safety. If the player is not wearing the shinguard(s), he or she is not properly dressed and should not be allowed to play until properly equipped. Under the Law, the player should be sent from the field temporarily to repair the condition. At less-skilled levels of play, your method should work fine, as long as you are able to monitor it and the other elements of the game at the same time.…


What special considerations are required if a player is wearing an artificial limb? Should the limb be padded? If it is an artificial leg, is a shin guard required on that limb?USSF answer (May 1, 2007):
Players with casts are allowed to play, provided the cast is properly padded and is not used as a weapon during a challenge for the ball. In our opinion an artificial limb should also be padded. Because shinguards are basic compulsory equipment. the player wearing the artificial limb should also wear a shinguard with the limb.

The primary concern is the safety of all participants and the final decision is made by the referee on the particular game.

The USSF position on non-compulsory equipment was set out in this memorandum of September 3, 2003:

To: State Referee Administrators //snipped//
From: Alfred Kleinaitis
Manager of Referee Development and Education
Subject: Players Wearing Non-Compulsory Equipment
Date: September 3, 2003


On August 25, 2003, FIFA issued Circular #863, regarding the legality of players wearing non-compulsory equipment.

FIFA notes that, under the “Powers and Duties” of the referee in Law 5 — The Referee, he or she has the authority to ensure that the players’ equipment meets the requirements of Law 4, which states that a player must not wear anything that is dangerous.

Modern protective equipment such as headgear, face-masks, knee and arm protectors made of soft, lightweight, padded material are not considered dangerous and are therefore permitted.

FIFA also wishes to strongly endorse the statement on the use of sports spectacles made by the International F.A. Board on March 10, 2001, and subsequently in FIFA Circular #750, dated April 10, 2001. New technology has made sports spectacles much safer, both for the player himself or herself and for other players. This applies particularly to younger players.

Referees are expected to take full account of this fact and it would be considered extremely unusual for a referee to prevent a player taking part in a match because he or she was wearing modern sports spectacles.

Referees are reminded of the following points which can assist in guiding their decisions on this matter:

Look to the applicable rules of the competition authority. – Inspect the equipment.
– Focus on the equipment itself–not how it might be improperly used, or whether it actually protects the player.
– Remember that the referee is the final word on whether equipment is dangerous.…


What is the ruling on matching sock color? If a team is wearing a predominately red sock, and a few players want to mix-n-match, say one sock is black and another is red or white on the same player. This question applies to high school level play. ThanksUSSF answer (April 17, 2007):
We do not deal with the rules of high school soccer. What follows applies to games played under the aegis of the United States Soccer Federation.

The matter of different colored socks is moot. While nothing is specifically written in Law 4 regarding the color of socks, tradition and common practice dictate that all members of a team (with the possible exception of the goalkeeper) wear socks of the same color, rather than each wearing his or her own choice. Wearing one sock of one color and one of another color is not strictly prohibited under the Laws of the Game.

The ruling will be found in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game,” which is based on the Laws, memoranda from FIFA and the International F. A. Board, and on memoranda and policy papers published by the United States Soccer Federation.

It is implicit in the Law that each side wear a distinctively colored jersey, that shorts and socks be uniform for each team, and that the uniforms be distinguishable from the uniforms worn by the other team. However, the details of the uniform are governed by the competition authority and can vary widely from one match to another. The referee must know and enforce the rules of each competition worked. Players’ jerseys must remain tucked inside their shorts, socks must remain pulled up, and each player must wear shinguards under the socks. Slide pants or similar undergarments must be as close as possible to the main color of the shorts.


What do you think about sticky stuff on the goalkeeper’s gloves? I believe it is covered on throw in and the players using the ribbed gloves, but I have not had anything come up on goalkeepers. My gut-feel is that it is unsporting behavior.USSF answer (March 12, 2007):
The goalkeeper is allowed certain exceptions in the equipment he or she is permitted to wear. These exceptions for the goalkeeper are designed strictly for protection of the goalkeeper, who is often expected to dive quickly to the ground. Law 4 is meant to ensure player safety, not player superiority through artificial means. There is no provision for the goalkeeper or any other player to wear artificial aids to enhance their ability to play. Therefore tacky substances on the hands or “sticky” gloves are illegal equipment and, if used, constitute unsporting behavior for which a caution should be given. The offending substance must be removed and offending gloves may be replaced by others that are not “doctored.”…