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Question Number: 21650

Law 5 - The Referee 7/14/2009

RE: Rec. Adult

Remy of Windsor, Ontario Canada asks...

I have received various answers about the wearing of transitional (lenses that get darker with sunlight) perscription eye glasses when I am refereeing. Are they allowed at all levels? Can you tell me the official stand on this issue? Thanx!

Answer provided by Referee Michelle Maloney

Allowed? Technically, yes. Practically, never at the higher and more competitive levels.

Why? For basically the same reason that hats are frowned upon in any professional or semi-professional league. It is about presentation and image. The standard referee uniform does not include hats or sunglasses. You will not see professional referees wearing either.

However, for recreational games and youth games below the top levels, the glasses you list are acceptable. I do hope they are not glass, and that the frames and lenses are constructed in a way that will not result in injury if you are hit with a ball, or if a player collides accidentally with you.

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Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol

In addition to the it-doesn't-look-professional argument, sunglasses are not worn by referees because it limits direct eye contact with players. Sometimes that's needed for game management.

However, in the local youth games I do, I'm fine with wearing my transitional lenses. I'm not about to buy a separate pair of glasses just to do soccer games. I've been hit by the ball once in 12 years, and while that resulted in a short delay as we found the popped out lens and replaced it in the frame, I was not damaged.

Were I to get to a level where 'it doesn't look professional' really does matter, then I'd be making enough money at refereeing to afford a pair of good sports goggles.

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Answer provided by Referee Debbie Hoelscher

I personally would discourage your use of the transition lens glasses while refereeing. I have transitional lenses and I believe they get dark enough to reduce the ability to have good eye contact. Eye contact is a significant and useful communication tool, not with just your teammates, but with players, spectators and team managers as well. If you were my referee and I couldn't see your eyes, I would feel that part of our ability to communicate would significantly reduced.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

I used to wear transitions while refereeing - as a uni student I simply couldn't afford to buy an additional pair of glasses for refereeing.

Unfortunately I copped quite a bit of flak from players and spectators for wearing 'sunglasses' on the field.

I have since bought a new pair of glasses without transitions lenses (not a fan of those lenses anyway - and refereeing at dusk was very difficult!), and I don't have the same sort of arguments. Players tend to look quite poorly on what they see as a referee wearing sunglasses. After all, we wouldn't let the players wear sunglasses.

So from a practical perspective, you may find that the transitions lenses introduce a few more difficulties with respect and player management. As to what extent that occurs is probably going to be fairly dependent upon the type of games you do.

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