During a U/15B match being refereed by a Grade 6 referee, the referee admistrator stopped the game during play from the touchline without consulting the center referee. The match was stoppedĀ because one team wore two different colored socks. The entire team had matching socks. There was no color conflict with the opposing team. The certer referee was taken aback by this action and stated there was no written law or rule disallowing this, that simply the entire team had to be dressed alike with no color conflict. The admistrator openly chastised the center referee for not knowing the law. The players changed socks and the match resumed.

I went to the the 2008 Laws of the Game and could find no reference not allowing the wearing of different colored socks. Can you clarify this for me?

USSF answer (May 7, 2008):
There is indeed a requirement for uniformity of socks. 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 or wearing socks of one color on one foot and socks of a different color on the other foot.

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 in 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. All undergarments (slide pants, undershirts, etc.) which extend visibly beyond the required uniform must be as close as possible in color to the main color of the uniform part under which they are worn.

All players must wear jerseys or shirts that distinguish them from the referee and assistant referees. If the colors are the same, the players, not the referees, must change.

Remember that jersey/shirt and shorts must be two separate items, not a single unit.

We are concerned that the overzealous referee administrator interfered and actually forced a stoppage of the game to take care of this matter. By waiting for a stoppage called by the referee, the administrator could have “pointed out” the sock color issue and, if he could, cited a local league or competition rule which clearly required the socks to be of the same color from foot to foot. Otherwise, butt out!!

Leave a Reply