USSF Referee MemorandumsTo: State Referee Administrators, State Youth Referee Administrators, State Directors of Referee Instruction, State Directors of Referee Assessment, National Assessors, National Instructors, National Referees
From: Julie Ilacqua, Managing Director of Federation Services
Re: Player's Equipment
Date: March 7, 2003
USSF has received a number of inquiries recently about how officials should handle situations where players wish to wear equipment that is not included in the list of basic compulsory equipment in FIFA Laws of the Game. Referees are facing increased requests from players for permission to wear kneepads, elbowpads, headbands, soft casts, goggles, etc.
The only concrete guidance in the Laws of the Game is found in Law 4:
"A player must not use equipment or wear anything which is dangerous to himself or another player."
This is followed by a list of required uniform items - jersey, shorts, socks, shoes, and shinguards. Obviously, this language is quite general. USSF suggests the following approach to issues involving player equipment and uniforms:
1. Look to the applicable
rules of the competition authority.
2. Inspect the equipment.
3. Focus on the equipment
itself - not how it might be improperly used, or whether it actually protects
The referee should not forbid the equipment simply because it creates a possibility that a player could use it to foul another player or otherwise violate the Laws of the Game. However, as the game progresses, an item that the referee allowed may become dangerous, depending on changes in its condition (wear and tear) or on how the player uses it. Referees must be particularly sensitive to unfair or dangerous uses of player equipment and must be prepared to order a correction of the problem whenever they become aware of it.
The referee also should not forbid the equipment because of doubts about whether it actually protects the player. There are many new types of equipment on the market that claim to protect players. A referee's decision to allow a player to use equipment is not an endorsement of the equipment and does not signify that the referee believes the player will be safer while wearing the equipment.
4. Remember that the referee
is the final word on whether equipment is dangerous.
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