I had the distinct pleasure of working with our up and coming youth officials as an AR in a U12B game. I sincerely hope that the coach/referee reads this site and you feel it is pertinent enough to post the question and supply the answer.
It was a tournament game with games back to back. The referee and AR were fairly new so they only had the yellow shirt. The coach of the yellow team (solid yellow jerseys), 3 minutes before game time (when we had been there inspecting the nets/players for a few minutes) introduced himself to the referee and demanded that the crew change jerseys because of the confusion it has caused all tournament and season, for that matter. He claimed that he, too, was a registered official and had all the secondary colored referee jerseys in case of conflict. The young referee stated that he did not have an alternate color jersey nor was it practical to run back to the referee tent (far far away) and try to find someone who could loan us two shirts because the games had to run on time. We did a check of both teams while they were warming up but they had on black warm ups so we did not assume that they would have yellow jerseys. It was our error that we did not ask t o! see the color of the uniforms. But, the stripes in our shirts clearly delineated us from the team and has done so in the past when there was a “conflict”. The coach went ballistic and claimed that since we were all professionals, we were required to have alternate colors. He said that, despite the two officials being young that all officials were required to have alternate jerseys!! He yelled at me (because I have all the gold on my badge, I guess) and said that there had to be five distinct colors on the field. We resolved it because we found 3 pennies to wear so, that indeed, gave us five distinct colors. The game started on time.
At half time, the coach substituted his goalkeeper. The new goalkeeper had a jersey the same color as the opponents. I called it to the referee’s attention before the second half began. The coach was livid! He claimed that he did not have another jersey because the previous goalkeeper did not want to loan his jersey to the replacement. He was gently reminded that there needed to be five distinct colors on the field. He huffed and puffed and threatened to file a complaint about our being “unreasonable” and overstepping our authority. We did not start the second half until he satisfied the color requirement. The next tournament game on our field started on time.
Question: What are the requirements for youth officials regarding alternate jerseys? They are local officials and there are no yellow teams in our area. Parents are very upset at the start up costs for just the starter kit and are reluctant to put out anymore money because it is not clear which alternate jersey to buy since you would conflict with most teams, anyway.
Oh, the yellow team lost the game and apparently had a losing tournament.

USSF answer (May 7, 2009):

As a referee, the coach should KNOW that the Law requires the teams to change so as not to conflict with the referees. (After all, who started wearing black jerseys and thus took away what used to be “the referee color”?)

Referees, particularly at the beginning of their career, are required to have only a gold jersey. If they can afford to buy more colors, good for them, but they do not have to. It was very kind of your crew to find some pinnies to borrow and thus do the yellow team a major favor. The referee on your game would have been justified in requiring the yellow team to change its jerseys. And the referee was also justified in insisting that the goalkeeper change, if only because the coach/referee was a pain.

There are times when the goalkeepers may wear the same color as one another, but they must make every effort to wear a different color than the opposing team’s field players.

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