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Question Number: 23290

Law 4 - Players Equipment 5/10/2010

RE: Competive Under 14

Mike Martinez of Broomfield, CO USA asks...

Recent state cup quater finals game, U13 Girls, Premier level.

Coach was running late, girls know what to do for warm-up, so not a big deal until 40 minutes prior to game time, the center referee decides he does not like the color of our away jersey, stating that the light blue color in not light enough. Mind you, the coach still has not arrived, and we have a center referee now scolding the 12 and 13 year old girls, while they are trying to get psyched up for the upcoming match. This seemed very inapproriatte to me, as a parent, coach, and referee. I was always taught that if there was a conflict in the team colors, the HOME team changes, and for a team issue such as this, the referee should be talking to the coach, not the players.

Your thoughts?

Answer provided by Referee Dennis Wickham

My reactions:

The state cup rules should indicate what color need to be worn by home/away teams, and who must change when the referee decides there is a conflict. In state cup and other high level matches, the rules may be different than local practice.

I would hope that the referee would identify as soon as possible any issue with the jersey so that there is time for the team to correct it. Many rules provide for a forfeit if the team required to change doesn't have the alternate jerseys. Waiting for the coach to arrive sounds like the worst option. I'm surprised, however, that there was no other team official present. It is unusual for a coach to be late and no assistant or manager present for such a big match.

If there is no coach or team official at the field , the referee should be able to inform the players. As a referee, you know that referees talk to players all the time.

There is no need for any referee to scold 12 and 13 year olds.

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Answer provided by Referee Nathan Lacy

An administrative matter like this should be discussed with the staff and/or coaches - not the players. Not having been there I can not attest as to whether the referee's actions and comments would constitute 'scolding' and I know that some are more sensitive than others as to what would classify as such. Keeping your remarks directed towards the coaches and staff mitigates such perceptions and would be a preferred approach, in my opinion. All the best,

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Mike
Kit clashes always cause problem with multiple competition rules, opinions, etc and in many situations it gets the mood of the game off to a poor start. In our Leagues the home team changes for certain competitions but that changes to the away team in others including national competitions. Indeed some teams believe that these clashes are deliberate as part of gamesmanship when the rule changes.
Referees know how difficult it is to get replacement kit and it can take some considerable time to source. Most team don't travel with two kits. Many times referees are left in the unsatisfactory situation of a team not being able to get a replacement kit and then 'forced' to make a decision to play or postpone which can be a forfeit. The debate then can be about how much time the referee gave to sort this, when was the decision made etc. The same coaches will berate referees for poor offside decision, direction of TIs etc because the referee is expected to see correctly who the ball came off yet give no thought to proper identification through kits. A simple phone call between coaches to agree colours would have sorted this.
I wholly agree that the referee should not be 'scolding' the players at underage on this matter and his comments should be directed to the coaches. It surprises me that these young players were left unsupervised in this situation with only I assume spectating parents present. There are learning points in here for everyone involved.

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Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol

There are differing rules on uniform color clashes. Some rules state that the home team must change (perhaps under the theory that they have more ready access to alternate jerseys). Other rules may say that home wears dark, away light (which is what it sounds like applied here).

While a referee should not 'scold' young players about their colors, identifying a problem well in advance of game time is better than waiting until just before kickoff. It gives the team a chance to make the change.

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