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Question Number: 30049

Law 4 - Players Equipment 1/25/2016

RE: premier Under 17

helda of corter , Washington US asks...

This question is a follow up to question 24174

Cartilage piercings cannot be taken out for a year after piercing. My daughter wants her cartilage pierced but is worried she will not be able to play soccer. It is not possible to get it pierced while it is not soccer season because she plays club in the fall and winter, and high school soccer in the spring. Also, if she were to only play high school, she still would have to wait until after the season is over to get it pierced and because it takes a year for the hole to close, she won't be able to take it out until AFTER the season is over of the following year. Why is it not allowed to cover it with tape if the tape is fully covering the piercing? It then is harmless, because last I knew, nobody have been injured by a bandage during soccer.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Helda
This is a question one has to pose to FIFA the world governing body. The Laws expressly forbids taping of jewellery. It is the referees role to enforce the Laws and while we have an opinion ours is not to second guess. I suspect that FIFA who has a distinguished medical committee took advice on this topic before making the amendment to the Laws. Obviously there are different scales of danger so perhaps rather than being opinion based it is resolved with a blanket no jewellery. The taping decision was debated at length by some member associations, some of which issued a taping directive on wedding bands. Those subsequently had to be withdrawn at FIFAs instruction although I suspect the remnants linger on with taping. The only suggestion that I can offer if that instead of a metal stud that a soft safety stud is used which is made of a soft pliable material which is not jewellery.
I once had a player with a metal eye piercing tell me that he could not remove it. I told him that he could not play even with tape and clearly supported in law. Obviously he thought it was safe to wear this. This standoff continued right up to kick off and then he removed it. I could not envisage a more dangerous piecing that could end up with damage to his eye. Yes perhaps it might not happen yet if it did what would be the reaction and the issue?
The final point I would make is that the Law is not uniformly enforced. I know that some referees are strict on this, some are not and are indifferent. They all though get engaged with it in important games and when being observed. Safety is key no matter the situation and a referee could be of the view that concurs with your own or he is slack in implementing the law. However the game where the referee adopts zero tolerance and shows safety concerns for all is the game where Plan B has to be available. Plan B is to remove them or to have the soft stud solution in place already. If plan B is used all the time it does not arise.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Helda,
Most jewelry piercing are a danger to the wearer as opposed to the rest of the players. Certain venues and certain referees will display divergent tolerances but if she wants to play at a high level it is a risk she will have to take that a no go to play will arise.

Industrial ear piercing can be a 12 month healing period but 3 to 6 months is more likely. Never ever ever should you ever have cartilage pierced with a gun! This causes the cartilage around the site to shatter which adds some serious internal damage and will add months and months to the healing process. The problem is keeping them clean and if you do take them out to play put them back properly not too tight and be very aware of irritation and adherence to cleanliness. I have to question though that taking something out for an hour and a half could result in a hole closing seems unlikely but it certainly increase the risk of infection. I have found the propensity to impale is considerably less one if a soft hard but pliable material as opposed to metal is inserted. The tape can be placed over the hole to protect and keep it clean just not the stud itself.


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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

The Laws of the Game require no jewellery to be worn. This is quite black and white - the referee has no discretion over this.
You raise the question of putting tape over the jewellery - what would the benefit of that actually be?
For stud-type jewellery, particularly in that part of the ear, the risk is from impact - a head to the ear can smash that piece of jewellery into the side of the head causing quite a nasty injury. A colleague of mine has seen a similar injury happen with a stud in the ear lobe. Tape does absolutely nothing to actually protect the body part with jewellery - it conceals the jewellery, nothing else (it may reduce the risk of it getting caught, but easy for whatever is going to catch the jewellery to pull the tape off anyway).
Your daughter is going to have to make a decision - piercing or soccer? Or investigate whether she can actually have it removed for the duration of a match.

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