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Question Number: 29433

Law 4 - Players Equipment 5/21/2015

RE: JV High School

Mireya of Aurora, Colorado USA asks...


My question is can a goal keeper have long nails? My concerns are that if the nails are too long it might hurt when stopping the ball/ they would get in the way, also when putting on the gloves.

Thank you.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Mireya
This is of no concern to the referee. Players make their own choice about these matters as they are natural, not worn nor part of the players equipment.
There is no risk to an opponent unless the player uses his hand to strike an opponent in which case the player will be dismissed for violent conduct.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Mireya,

The Laws state that a player cannot wear anything that's dangerous. So, false nails can definitely fall into this as they are 'worn'.

As for long natural nails, I know different referees will have different opinions on this. Unless they're extremely, unusually long, I don't think the referee should worry about it.

But, if the goalkeeper is wearing gloves then the referee wouldn't see the hands, so he wouldn't know anything about the nails.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Mireya,
Long natural nails, meant to be decorative or as even for defense, are in my opinion, not essential or suitable for playing soccer. While not strictly forbidden unless they are false add ons thus possibly classified as jewellery you already know the problems you will face they, will break or fracture ...ESPECIALY... if you are a keeper. I do not think it is a particular good idea but then who am I to offer such advice, you do as your heart dictates and learn from any actions undertaken. Maybe their added length will save a tip over ball from scoring. If they were used to scratch an opponent then you might expect harsh repercussions. Perhaps not if kept inside the keeper gloves lol

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Answer provided by Referee Joe Manjone


Your question really is one of comfort rather than a rule or referee question. As a goalkeeper you are wearing gloves so that your fingernails are covered by the gloves and therefore would not become a safety or equipment concern. How long fingernails can be when wearing gloves depends on the gloves and the comfort of the wearer. I suggest that you get your fingernails the length that you would like them and try putting gloves on and catching and stopping balls to determine if that length is comfortable. Also, you may want to determine if breakage of the fingernails can occur with the gloves on - again by stopping and catching shots. I think that you will probably find that as a goalkeeper, you will prefer shorter finger nails, but hopefully you will be able to have fingernails with the length that you desire.

I hope that you have a successful season.

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