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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 33787

Law 4 - The Players Equipment 11/26/2019

RE: REC Adult


At the weekend i was watching a match where unfortunately one of the players had most of his arm missing.

He was a good player but on several occasions his sleeve of his long shirt whipped several of our players in the face not that he was doing it on purpose but he was aware of what he was doing.

Several of our players would not go near him for fear of facial damage.

Surely the ruling must be that loose clothing is either fastened or the sleeve cut short.

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Mark,
You say LONG sleeve jersey? If this was being flipped about like a belt, pigtails or beaded braids I think the referee could request it be tied off and shortened . Also a handling foul if it was being flipped about away from the body might give him pause to not do so. . Be a good reason to say to that player BEFORE any goofiness you should get rid of that handling obstacle of a jersey. I do not see such a request as discrimination more along common sense
Frankly though I have refereed amputees with one leg and no arms as well as no arms or a single arm, although short sleeves were worn to best of my recollection no one had any issues except the one handed guy doing a throw in tended to irritate some as he could hurl it quite far lol ! Cheers .

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Mark,
This is a tricky one for the referee, given the sensibilities involved. However I do actually feel the law has a provision that is applicable here. The law says that:

''A player must not use equipment or wear anything that is dangerous.''

I'm not sure a loose sleeve would necessarily, really be such a massive hazard but nevertheless a referee could, if they truly and sincerely believed the loose sleeve was dangerous, and any complaints about it were not just a ploy, ask for it to be secured to avoid any potential danger to the opponents.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Mark
The Law does not make provision for outlier situations such as the one you describe.
It states ** 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 – this often involves asking the question, *what would football want/ expect?*
Personally I think that a jersey sleeve causing an injury is a *huge ask* and it is up to each referee to decide based on his opinion on the day and based on actual incidents in the game if it merits attention or not. There is no definitive answer about loose clothing.
I recall playing against players over the years that had a missing arm and I have no recollection of jersey issues.
I also believe that referees could be mindful of how the player could react to the jersey issue if asked to attend to the sleeve when it is not absolutely clear in Law unlike say no shin guards, socks down, sleeveless shirt etc. The player is wearing a jersey as required in Law and a loose jersey sleeve would generally for me not be considered *dangerous*.
It is not something that is going to confront many referees.

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