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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 33593

Law 4 - The Players Equipment 8/24/2019

RE: Competitive College

Abi of Los Angeles, California USA asks...

I was wondering if I cut my socks at the ankles and wore different socks underneath it and they were black would I still be allowed to play or is it against the rules. lemme knows thanks

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Abi
In the Pro ranks players want to wear particular socks that are a better fit, quality or socks that do not move in the boot the so called grip sock. There are a number of brands of that particular type of sock.
What the Pros do is cut the club sock just about the ankle. They then put on the grip sock, followed by the shin pad and then pull the sock tube over the grip sock and the shin pad. They then tape up the bottom of the sock tube at the ankle with tape.
Now the issue is that the grip socks only comes in a few colours so the exposed part of that sock can be a different colour from the regular sock. Throw in a tape colour that is different and the player then has a problem with the socks not meeting Law 4.
If on the other hand the grip sock, sock tubing and tape are all the same colour then there is no issue. It will look all like one sock of one colour. That is the required standard.
Now depending on how far down the original sock is cut at the ankle, a small show of the under sock or grip sock can be allowed much like the boot with the integrated boot sock.
Here is a video if a player using this method
Now a referee would probably not allow this as it does not meet Law 4 through the use of incorrect tape. I felt that if he cut the green sock lower and used green tape that would be acceptable. If the green sock was white in colour there would be no issue whatsoever.
Now at Underage I see young players wanting to mimic their playing heros with many wearing mainly white socks over the club sock. It looks like the Pros but in fact it is not. At lower levels I tend to let it slide a bit particularly if there is no colour conflict such as the opponents wearing white socks. I know others who just do not allow it.
In summary if you want to be 100% legal the undersock and tape must be same colour as the main part of the sock.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Abi,
You haven't said what colour your original socks are, nor whether the black socks you're talking about would be visible or not. If your original socks are black or if the 'undersocks' are not visible there would be no issue.

If wearing these black ankle socks would cause a visible colour mis-match with your original socks though, the referee might have a decision to make.

The law does not specifically address this particular scenario and when that is the case, there is guidance that goes as follows:

''The Laws cannot deal with every possible situation, so where there is no direct provision in the Laws, The IFAB expects the referee to make a decision within the 'spirit' of the game ...''

For me, given the provision that, ''any material applied or worn externally must be the same colour as that part of the sock it is applied to or covers,'' I would say the referee could see the wearing of an ankle sock of a different colour to the part if the sock it is immediately adjacent to, as problematic.

In the end, it would be up to the referee to decide whether to permit this or not. To avoid this risk, I would advise you to arrange your socks in such a way that the black ones (assuming that is a different colour to the main sock) are not visible. That way you wouldn't be giving the referee a tricky decision to make, and one that could potentially go against you.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Ani,
Trying to visualize what you are asking and wondering why would you want to? You want to wear leggings? I suppose if there is no confusion as to which team you were playing for ? Cheers

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Abi,
The laws don't explicitly say anything about this, but part of our role is applying the spirit of the law.

Previously the laws stated that socks must cover shinpads. The argument could possibly be made that if you've cut the bottom off then they're no longer socks.

As long as the additional sock is the same colour as the part you've cut off - and no part of the shinpad becomes visible at the bottom, and it's not apparent that you're wearing a cut off sock (ie there's no skin showing at the join) then I doubt you'll encounter any problems.

But if the different sock is a different colour to what that part of the original sock is, then it's going to look different to your teammates and the referee may well not allow it - especially if your competition is strict on uniforms.

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