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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 33651

Law 4 - The Players Equipment 9/15/2019

RE: Adult

Adam Parker of Ferndown, Dorset United Kingdom asks...

Hi, I coach a group of ladies and some have their noses pierced. I have 5 in total. 4 have had these in for so long they can not take them out. Whether I agree or disagree with the ruling of accessories ie wedding rings etc. Is it right to stop them from playing.
If you are trying to get more girls playing football for thus reason?
Why cant a ref use their comment sense with this?

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Adam ,
I missed answering earlier but the reason a referee can not apply common sense given there appears to be so little of it now a days is legal prosecution should anything go wrong. Given the LOTG state NO, it would take a court order and some legalese on the part of the association and players to erase the prospects of litigation.

I am NOT a meat inspector , people have eyebrow, belly, nose, ear, pubic & toe rings or piercing that can not be seen as well as seen.

My suggestion is remove them if you wish to play at any reasonable level of competition. The ONLY recourse is to hide them unless you get special dispensation, things like hearing aids and religious icons are often exempted..

If we DO NOT see it, does it matter?
ONCE we know we are obligated to deal with it. Wear a sports google that covers the nose? Wear a fake nose, apply some makeup & plaster, tape them up and show me some studs in your hand claiming they are not there. I do not rip off the bandages your ears nor lift your googles Unfortunately if you lose those coverings and expose the jewelry so I can see it, you are asked to leave the FOP & remove it.

In my travels around the world watching amputee soccer matches are hardly safe but they play with as much passion as any two footed match usually on a sandy beach with cheering crowds of onlookers. I have seen players with coke bottle glasses taped to the face so they can see to play. Woman with huge necklaces to elongate the neck that are not coming off and some men & woman with so many body piercing that they would stick to the magnetic resonator in an airport! They kick the ball around some one acts as referee and so the game continues.

Is it allowed?
Like you indicate, playing a game or organized sports? There are rules & regulations that protect the safety of the participants. There are consequences for every action taken or not taken. In today's litigious society best to err on safety or accept the risk if you do not!

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Adam,
It has always been the case that player safety is paramount. The law requires jewellery to be removed because wearing it can cause injury.

As my colleagues have pointed out (and as the information from the First Aid website quoted by ref McHugh indicates) jewellery can cause quite nasty injuries if left in while playing, if the item becomes snagged and torn out - I'm sure you wouldn't want that to happen to your players and neither would any referee.

A quick Google search would indicate that nose rings can be removed - no matter how long they have been in. Simple logic would also dictate that they can be taken out. Nose piercings (along with other kinds of piercings) can become infected and then it becomes necessary to remove them.

For example, here is a video showing how to quickly and safely remove a nose ring:

There are multiple other videos and text articles explaining how to remove a nose ring.

It's surprising how often players will say they can't remove a particular piece of jewellery (players with wedding rings often make this claim) before finding that they actually can remove the item when they really need to.

I think it is worth repeating the last line of the advice from the site mentioned earlier:

''Ultimately, the best practice for athletes is to always remove body jewellery before playing any sport.''

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Adam
The Laws of the Game explicitly states that jewellery is forbidden ( IFAB wording not mine) and that taping is not permitted.
A player that I know lost a finger in training when his ring got caught on a railing. I dread to think what a referee would have thought or had to deal with had it happened on his watch in a game. I am sure the player saw no risk and wore the ring plenty of times before without issue.
Now we live in a world that has become extremely litigious and that an injury caused by jewellery can result in a legal claim for negligence. Ask any League and they will tell you that claims are on the increase. A busted nose with piercing complications or infection can end up as an expensive medical bill particularly if there are cosmetic surgery costs as well.
When it goes to court and a referee will asked why did he ignore Law 4 on jewellery what is going to be his defence? He used common sense and was trying to encourage more ladies to participate!
Now I know some referees who take a chance on the taping on the basis that as they do not see what it is covering that it sort of exonerates them. That is their call. However any referee that fully enforces the Law as written is doing what is required of him by the FA which is to fully enforce the Laws of the Game. Indeed a referee on assessment will be brought to task for any visible jewellery by an FA assessor.
Safety however is the key consideration for referees and anything that compromises safety should not be happening.
In a recent game that I was involved in one of girls presented wearing glasses. They were regular glasses and I told her she could not wear them and she was none too pleased, citing she could not play without them. I told her it was her choice as she could not play with them. She played without the glasses. What price on one eyesight and the cost of a pair of sports goggles?
A work colleague told me that her son got hit in the face in the schoolyard with a ball on a kick about and the glasses caused a nasty gash around his eye. I dread to think what would have happened has it punctured his eye!
Finally I read this statement on a UK First Aid site
** Piercings and studs are popular. There is danger of injury to the wearer and/or other competitors from any body piercing. Earrings in particular are prone to being torn from earlobes when contact is made. When pulled out this causes bleeding, pain and scarring. Even if you don't think your jewellery will get caught on clothing or sporting equipment, even simple stretches or rapid body movements can cause the hole to tear.**
** Taping - Many athletes with body piercings or rings use tape to cover the jewellery during activities. While this tactic does remove some risk, it is not always a reasonable solution. Some types of body jewellery cannot be adequately taped without affecting your range of movement and the adhesive from the tape can irritate the piercing wound.
Ultimately, the best practice for athletes is to always remove body jewellery before playing any sport.**

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Adam,
The Laws require that players do not wear jewellery to play.
If you want the referee to ignore this law, which other laws would you prefer they ignore?
Referees are expected to apply the Laws - even if they don't necessarily agree with them.
Piercings increase the risk to the player and injuries can be caused as a result. They're unlikely, sure, but the are an additional risk from having items that aren't part of a soccer player's equipment, so they're explicitly banned without exception under the Laws.
If the referee was to turn a blind eye to these, then they'd have to turn a blind eye to all jewellery - rings and ear studs. Not hard to find reports of serious injuries caused by those.
It's unreasonable to expect the referee to allow increased risk to players - and potential risk to themselves of litigation - by ignoring this part of the laws.

So the referee isn't to blame here at all - they're doing the job they're paid to do. This is on the players - they need to make a decision: Do they want piercings, or to play soccer? I'd argue that 'common sense' dictates you don't try to have both when the laws of the sport you choose to play explicitly preclude both, and common sense certainly dictates that a third party isn't blamed for the decision that those players have made.

I'd also expect any referee to have very, very little patience for an attempt at a gender-based argument of 'aren't they trying to get more women to play?'.

Women play under the same laws and safety considerations as men.

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