I could use some clarification on the FIFA definition of jewellery.

It is my interpretation of law 4 that “jewellery” has no firm definition, but, as a referee, I would defer primarily to the safety of the player’s equipment to determine the wearing of accessories. This is obviously not worth arguing about, but several of my players were reprimanded today for starting the game with string bracelets around their wrists.

It would be a big stretch to see these as potentially harmful to a player or opponent, but the referee today was adamant that such string bracelets are universally understood to be “jewellery.”

I ask this primarily as a referee, not a coach, because I want to know how FIFA would prefer this rule be interpreted.

Any help is greatly appreciated,

USSF answer (December 15, 2010):

There is no “FIFA” definition of anything in the Laws. The definitions are all made by the International Football Association Board (IFAB), the people who make the Laws, of which FIFA is a member. And they do not define jewelry for the simple reason that jewelry is jewelry, a decorative (usually) piece of adornment worn to enhance one’s beauty or to plug some product or cause. All jewelry is prohibited by the IFAB in Law 4, no matter what its appearance may be. Jewelry in any form is dangerous, which is why the IFAB has prohibited it; players’ hair or fingers may be caught and severely injured.

Jewelry includes (but is not limited to) “team spirit” strings; beads of any sort (worn in hair or on strings or leather, etc.); any adornment (including watches) worn on the wrist; rings with crowns or projections; adornment worn along the upper or lower arm; earrings of any sort (including “starter” earrings)l tongue studs; any visible body piercing; rubber, leather, plastic or other “bands” worn in reference to some sort of cause,

The only jewelry that is permitted in the United States is (a) medicalert jewelry for the purpose of aiding emergency medical personnel in treating injured players and (b) certain religious items that are not dangerous, are required by the religion to be worn, and not likely to provide the player with an unfair advantage (and even for the religious items, the player must have permission from the competition to wear it).

In short: No jewelry (or the wearing of any adornment of any sort) is allowed.