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Question Number: 29101

Law 18 - Common Sense 1/12/2015

RE: Rec. Under 14

George of Parangarecutirimicuaro, California Sacratomato asks...

I was an AR in a Girls U14 game. The other AR was our assignor. One of the players had her earrings covered with band aids. The CR asked her if she could remove them. The father/coach responded with a resounding 'No!' She had just had her ears pierced. The coach was very condescending about the whole situation and our assignor reluctantly agreed she should be able to play. My question is should we be lenient with pierced ears and let players play? At what age group do we allow zero tolerance for this? I personally did not want to allow the player on the field with earrings but then again, I was the AR and did not see it as my call to make.

Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi George,

The LOTG are vew clear on this - jewellery is not to be worn. Jewellery that has been concealed is still being worn. Either it's removed, or the player doesn't play.
There's absolutely no point in covering them with bandaids - a colleague tells me he's been on a match where a player with earrings suffered a rather serious injury when the earrings were knocked into the side of her head.
I can appreciate not wanting to tell a young player they can't participate in the match, and it sounds like that's what happened here - but as referees we need to make decisions we don't always like. Jewellery does pose a safety risk, and had that player been injured as a result, that referee and assignor would be facing some very difficult questions.
Parents should know that you can't play a contact sport with jewellery, so it's up to them to wait until the end of the season for new piercings.
While my approach certainly seems harder than that of the other panelists, that could simply be a difference in nations; Australia has a very hard, zero tolerance approach to jewellery which has come from the national association (in fact, my local association requires players to be cautioned if they are found during the game to have jewellery!).

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Answer provided by Referee Gene Nagy


As an AR you do not make the decision - the referee does, so you did the right thing: just wondered if the ref did the right thing.

I simply ask all jewelry to be removed as the rules demand it. If the player cannot remove them than I encourage them to take up table tennis or swimming, where wearing jewelry is allowed.

I have seen wedding bands worn, taped up, but even that is technically not allowed.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi George
It is the referees decision to make. I have told players with potentially dangerous piercings / jewellery that he / she will NOT play unless the jewellery is removed. One player I recall had an eye brow piercing that he said could not be removed. I went to the wire of kick off with the player saying that he could not play unless he took it out. I stuck by my decision and guess what it got removed. It always gets removed
Now in the past I know of situations where jewellery has been missed or the referee has adopted a lenient approach assessing that there is limited risk. From experience I know that some temporary inserts after a piercing are made from soft silicone which is not jewellery nor dangerous.
In this situation the referee dealt with it under his watch in a lenient manner. Another referee will decide differently fully in line with the Laws and perhaps in the next game it will not be allowed.
I know some referees that would deal very sharply with a No or a condescending coach and they have zero tolerance to jewellery.
My opinion is that once it is highlighted it gets removed so if the referee is going to ask and then do nothing any defence is removed IMO. Had the player in my case got his eye damaged from the piercing during play do you think his attorney would be exonerating me for my action of not enforcing the laws fully.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi George,
as a referee I feel we are not Meat Inspectors. If you see jewelry then deal with it as the LOTG state it is not permitted. You ask them to remove the jewelry and if you are not satisfied, you do not permit them to play
It is a common occurrence in adult recreational matches where many have piercings, nose rings and other nonsense attached. I simply assume they are old enough to know the risks. I encourage ring removal because a break or strain of the finger can cause swelling and finger loss. There are those that play with, tongue, belly button, toe rings even genital adornment for which I do not actively seek out.

Youth matches are different because they are not yet adults and as such these decisions are not their call. In the situation you described the coach's attitude is irrelevant to YOUR decision. I say remove them and bandage up the holes as there is blood flow from newly pierced ears. A player splits their head in any impact we allow it to be bandaged to control blood flow . If they bandage over the studs pretending to take them out I will not worry unless I SEE the bandage fall off and I SEE the studs. Then I see this player headed off the field and cautioned. The coach reported for failing to heed the request. Once THEY make a fuss and DEMAND your attention you protect yourself from blow back IF something was to occur.

It really is a matter for the support of ROC to back the LOTG adequately thus SUPPORT the referee because there are many, other than your condescending coach, that think the laws are ALL bendable and it is only the anal officials that would prevent a child from playing for such a minor tiny stud in the ear. They discount the safety for the loss of enjoyment until of course that 1 out 1000 ball to the ear blood flow issue crops up!

Other issues such as charm bracelets and chains or necklaces, religious or not are to be removed! If they are medic alert bracelet's, glasses or religious significant items that CAN be bandaged or altered to be safer it will be your call. A special chain or pendant, worn inside jersey taped to chest and tight to throat so fingers can not get in between easily. Head gear like a toque or a Sikh top turban or sports hijab are all allowed but turbans and hair extensions with beads etc are not Use judgement but protect yourself from those who whine about what is or is not fair .


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