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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 33695

Law 4 - The Players Equipment 10/7/2019

RE: Other

Trevor A Cox of Reading, PA United States asks...

Why is Jack Grealish of Aston Villa in the BPL allowed to wear his socks down when other players are made to pull them up even to the point of having to wear tape the same color as their socks? I dare say he is wearing shin guards but they are not on his shins.

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Trevor,
I don't think it's quite accurate to say that other players are made to pull up their socks - the law only requires socks to be worn, it does not specify how far up the leg they must go. Similarly with shin guards - the law does not dictate how big they must be, only that they must be worn and that they be ''made of a suitable material to provide reasonable protection.''

Personally, I think Grealish is being incredibly stupid - as a professional footballer his livelihood depends in part on protecting his body from injury and the ridiculously small shin guards he wears, along with the way he wears them, does virtually nothing to protect his legs.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Trevor
The Laws of the Game state and I quote * shinguards – these must be made of a suitable material to provide reasonable protection and covered by the socks**
In addition Law 4 requires that socks must be worn yet it does not spell out how other than they must cover the shin pad. Put the two together and for most players socks are pulled up to knee length over the pads.
We know that Grealish is wearing shin pads and that they are covered by his socks so he is compliant with the Laws.
The point you make highlights one of the problems with the Law in that it does not specify the size or location that the pads must be worn nor for that matter the suitability of the material nor how the socks are to be worn.
NF High School recognised that in the US and its rules states that only certified stamped pads can be worn and no higher than two inches from the ankle covering all of the shin and covered by the sock. Grealish could not meet the requirements of NFHS in the US!
The IFAB Law 4 allows Grealish and other players to chose what pads to wear and how to wear them. A player can wear an Underage player set of pads, which I think Grealish is wearing and for that matter high up on the shin with socks pulled up, the complete opposite of Grealish and still be compliant.
I believe Grealish started doing this as a superstition and he continues to do it now as a sort of a trademark. It certainly does not offer the protection that proper pads wearing offers yet it is his choice.
While on the subject some of the boots I now see now offer little to no protection as well and are made from wafer thin light fabric type material.
Players have a responsibility for their safety in the way that they play and the type of equipment they wear. All referees can do is ensure that they are compliant with Law 4 and if the player meets that then so be it.

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