In an English Championship league fixture, Michael Duberry was asked to remove his white under-shorts as they clashed with the all orange Reading strip. I recall this ruling coming in during the 1990s when multicolored “cycle shorts” became the rage, and it was made mandatory to match them to the teams shorts in terms of color. I also recall reading a FA ref manual that states something to the effect that they “must not extend below the knee”, which would outlaw the full length tights worn by Giggs, Ronaldo and John Barnes. Is this rule still in place? And what about the sleeve color of under shirts (with the new trend of short-sleeve club shirts with lycra under shirts, must they match?)

USSF answer (December 22, 2008):
Law 4 tells us:
Basic Equipment
The basic compulsory equipment of a player comprises the following separate items:
– a jersey or shirt with sleeves- if undergarments are worn, the color of the sleeve shall be the same main color as the sleeve of the jersey or shirt
– shorts – if undershorts are worn, they are of the same main color as the shorts

Shorts by definition do not extend below the knee — at least not nowadays.

The tights worn by players do not fall into the category of shorts and should not be treated as shorts.

Referees need to exercise common sense and not go out of their way to upset the other participants over trifling matters.

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