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Question Number: 30859

Law 4 - The Players Equipment 10/5/2016

RE: sligolietrim Under 14

caelan hunt of Sligo, Co. Sligo Ireland asks...

i was playing for my local club and i have a white tru sox(grip sock) and i cut my local team foot of my local team sock which we wear red and i was watching the ireland at the euros and seen that jeff hendrick was wearing a white tru sox over his green team socks so i thought this was allowed however when i was palying for my local club i was wearing red sock with my tru sox , the foot of the sock slightly showing at the heel and i had it taped with red tape and the ref checked it and said'not part of the sock and not the right colour'i wondered how did jeff hendrick get away with it so i was wondering what is the exact rule and does the tru sox have to be the same colour as the sock so that i could question the ref and i was asked to take it off

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Caelan
The Laws of the Game were updated on the 1st June 2016. The law now reads and I quote
* Socks tape or any material applied or worn externally must be the same colour as that part of the sock it is applied to or covers*
The explanation given is that socks tape or any material applied or worn externally must be the same colour as that part of the sock it is applied to or covers. That clarifies that non-tape material must be the same colour as the sock it covers as some players wear ankle socks (or similar) which are a different colour to the sock.
So if the sock is red the under sock or over sock must be red and red tape used.
Now in Jeff Hendricks case the referee on the day may have decided that only an inch or less was showing that in his opinion that met the requirement of the law with green taped used to cover the majority of the Trusock.
Also with the growth of fly knit boots the ankle part on these boots can be different colours ranging from black, white or whatever colour the boot is. In those cases a small bit of sock showing at the ankle can look the same. That latitude of a strip of colour at the lower ankle is no doubt given to players by some referees.
I would also say that many players other than the Pros do not use the Trussoc correctly. Some players just use it or similar as a sock over the club sock which can easily be reversed. When it cannot be reversed it is a much bigger deal and a referee may let it slide when there is no alternative and the colour strip at the ankle of the boot similar to flyknit is minimal.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Caelan, I think this is one area where the Laws of the Game have been slightly outstripped by the latest developments in sports footwear. Ref McHugh has correctly quoted the law but it seems to me that it does not clearly cover the situation of boots with built-in socks. For instance, is the built-in sock considered part of the boot (in which case it does not have to match the sock colour) or is it considered as material that forms part of the sock (in which case it should match the part of the sock it covers)?

When the law does not give sufficiently clear guidance, I believe we have to at least attempt to discern the intent of the law and apply it accordingly. In fact, the 2016-17 Laws have included wording that more or less says this, as follows:

''Decisions will be made to the best of the referee's ability according to the Laws of the Game and the 'spirit of the game' and will be based on the opinion of the referee who has the discretion to take appropriate action within the framework of the Laws of the Game.''

Unfortunately, this can easily lead to inconsistency as one referee's interpretation of the 'appropriate action' can differ from another's. So where the referee in the case of Jeff Hendricks' Trusox thought it appropriate to allow them, the referee in your case did not.

I can only suggest that you attempt to arrange the cut-off part of your team socks, Trusox and red tape in such a way that none of the white Trusox are visible. If there is no hint of any different colour visible, then the problem should not arise.

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