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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 33468

Law 4 - The Players Equipment 6/21/2019

SANDRA KERLEW of Windsor, CT United States asks...

Visiting Team B is wearing white jerseys and socks. B1 is wearing a black long-sleeve undershirt, B2 is wearing black tights, and B3 is wearing a black arm sleeve.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Sandra
Law 4 tells us that undershirts and shorts have to be the same colour as the shirt and shorts. Soccer has prided itself on smartly turned out teams with appropriate kit and FIFA has tried to ensure that high standards are applied. Some see little point in it and rail against it while others do not want to see teams kited out in all sorts with a mixed bag of colours, undergarments etc.
So if Team B has White jerseys the undershirts should also be white. I assume shorts were also white so undershorts should be white.
As to the black arm sleeve it is a question as to whether they are used for protective purposes or not. If used for protective use, only headgear has a colour requirement. So black arm protectors can be worn. Seems strange as it can look like a black undershirt is being worn which is not allowed under a white shirt whereas black arm protectors can.
Now you do not mention age group or level of the game. At lower are groups and where fun is what is important I tend to be generous on the equipment except for the compulsory safety items of shin pads, no glasses. I am relaxed about tape colour for securing pads as well.
So I'm not getting into a spat with Mum or Dad about their very young child having to remove a wrongly coloured undershirt or shorts. I tell coaches I am relaxing the requirement yet others may not be as generous. I might say something like * Coach I see a few of your team are wearing black undershirts / shorts when they should be white? What gives?* He may give me a story that he has asked parents but has failed to get change or he may say he did not know that or that it is only U10\ 11 so fun is what it is about. I will say that is fine and we can go with it yet to be aware that other referees may strictly enforce it and as the players get older less slack will be given. He is put on notice that I have flagged this and I have decided to relax the requirement in the interest of fun at a young age.
I also have to take into account the colour of the opponents shirts. If the opponents are playing in long black sleeved shirts distinguishing between arms with black undershirts / sleeves can be very difficult. Again a call based on the level of the competition
That works for me yet as players move up the ranks the slack gets cut to nil.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

HI Sandra,
The LOTG require undergarments to be the same colour as the shirt/shorts.
In the case of the long pants, the sock colour doesn't matter - they need to match the primary colour of the shorts.
For the black shirt, if the sleeves are predominantly black - or even 50% black - a black undershirt is fine.
For the black arm sleeve, sounds like it's some sort of therapeutic sleeve on a single arm? The LOTG doesn't say either way on those (and consider that unlike undershirts and long pants, joint protectors don't come in a wide range of colours). It would be like knee support - the colours of those are very limited.

If not, then those undergarments shouldn't be allowed.

I know that some competitions tend to ignore these aspects of the law. Whether that's right or wrong - I just think consistency is important. It's either enforced or not - it becomes a problem when some referees enforce it and some don't.

One area I referee in (Australia) ignores these parts of the law at all grades, even including local first grade (still amateur, but competitive). Another area I referee in, the law is applied at all ages, even young players and low grades.

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