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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 34811

Law 4 - The Players Equipment 12/20/2022

RE: Comp Under 11

Brian Sehon of Fort Pierce, Florida United States asks...

When a player leaves to correct footwork can I allow him to reneter the game when ball is in play

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Brian
A referee would have to check the footwear to ensure that it meets the requirement of Law 4. The lone official may have to wait for a stoppage in play to carry out that check.

I noted in the World Cup that Kylian Mbappe of France had to change his boot in the game against Morocco after a challenge which resulted in his lace being broken. He came to the side of the field of play yet never left the field and the replacement boot was handed to him. One would assume that the 4th official inspected the boot to confirm it met the requirements of Law 4.

Now I have seen these situations cause problems for referees as many times referees are NOT explicit enough in their instructions to players. Technically a lone referee may require the player to leave the field of play to change footwear and only return at a stoppage so the boots can be checked. At the request by the player to change footwear the referee could examine the boots at that time which is probably a stoppage anyway and then allow the player to return when the change has taken place.

A final point is that it is not something to get too hung up on. Rarely if ever did I come across a problem with footwear yet more often jewellery, shin pads etc. Try to manage it with some common sense to ensure it does not create a spat that can easily be avoided. At Underage footwear is rarely if ever a problem so don't let it become a technical problem not connected with the footwear

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Brian,
generally YES, the ARs or 4th can check if everything's ok should a referee actually request a player to exit to fix equipment. If officiating as a single referee you might wish to see it for yourself but you do n t want players waiting to get back on for just fixing an untied shoe.. I had one young lads shin guards kept popping out, he' d stop kneel down try to shove them in. I sent him off to his coach told the coach tape them so he is not at risk. I looked over saw they had tapped his skinny legs and socks up so I waved him back on. Often kids' sock are huge better to put the shinguards on the outside of the socks but ROll the extra all the way down to the ankle then wrap them with some duct tape a few times It is important to be diligent but also reasonable.
Merry Christmas

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Brian,
According to Law 4, a player who had left to correct problems with their footwear (or other equipment) can:

"only re-enter with the referee’s permission (which may be given during play)"

So technically yes, you can allow them to re-enter during play but as ref McHugh points out, giving permission entails being sure that the equipment is now in order, which might be difficult to do when you are a lone referee with no other match officials to help you, without a stoppage in play.

Depending on the exact situation, it might still be possible, although I would say it's probably easier to be sure if you do a personal inspection up close, which in most cases would need there to be a stoppage.

If you have another match official who can do the check and communicate to you when everything is in order, then the player can come back on during play.

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