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Question Number: 30927

Law 4 - The Players Equipment 10/19/2016

RE: Middle School Under 15

Joe of Wharton, New Jersey United States of America asks...

If the home team and away team both have the same color uniforms with the same color lettering who is responsible for changing shirts or wearing pinnie's if there are no alternate colors to be worn? I have had this situation arise numerous times and never really know the answer.

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Joe,
The ROC rules of the competition usually are stated to fix such situations. in reality that is a bylaw of the league or association you play under should address. Home is supposed to be advantageous hence historically, I thought the away team was responsible to ensure the change. Still if there is a clash and at least one team COULD change or had the ability to change as a courtesy and out of respect to the official I would hope they could do so . The CR can not go ahead and start the match unless he can differentiate between the two teams. .

I have had teams turn their jerseys inside out in some cases and with others as a CR I asked if they could change their socks as some clashes of colours from the side where jerseys are multi coloured white on the side blue in front or white on side red in front, both teams wearing black shorts black socks from a side view tough on offside as they looked very similar . Lucky the red and white team had red socks and changed for me.
  The two teams must wear colours that distinguish them from each other and the match officials
 Each goalkeeper must wear colours that are distinguishable from the other players and the match officials
 If the two goalkeepers' shirts are the same colour and neither has another shirt, the referee allows the match to be played Undershirts must be the same colour as the main colour of the shirt sleeve; undershorts
Based on this keepers jerseys the same, its a headache but ok but there is no way for a referee to be effective if teams are same colour or jerseys.

R.O.C. Here is an example of an association bylaw which puts the emphasis on the HOME TEAM to change even as they state it is MANDITORY for all teams to have 2 colours.

Uniforms (similar jerseys with numbers) aren't mandatory. However, when two teams have the same colour, the team without a uniform has to change jersey colour
In the case that both teams have a uniform or no uniform, the home team will have to change colour
For all teams it is mandatory to have 2 different coloured jerseys at the game at all times

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Joe
This is always set out in the Rules of Competition for that particular competition. In some Leagues the away team must change yet in others it is the Home team responsibility to change. Reason being is that the Home team has easier access to its equipment rather than the away team. In our lower Leagues the Home team changes.
Now in NFHS game the Rules state that the Home team must wear White and the Away team a Dark colour which contrasts with White. So that is simple in that the team that does not meet the rule must change if there is a clash. A team has two kits one White and one that is say a college colour such as Red. When at home it plays in White and when away it plays in Red.
Also I find that it is a good idea in the absence of a clear rule to make contact with the opposing coach to find out what they are wearing colour wise. If one knows the visiting team is playing in Red then White works.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Joe,

Strictly speaking, this is not a laws of the game question. It should be covered in the rules of competition. If possible, try to get a copy of the ROC for any game you officiate. If you don't have them or if they don't address the issue then you have to be practical. If one team has a change of shirt and the other doesn't, ask them whether they would mind changing. Hopefully, in the interests of allowing the game to go ahead, they will agree.

If both could change but don't want to and the ROC do not cover this (a situation I have faced in the past) then I would toss a coin, with the loser having to change (or wear bibs/pinnies).

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Answer provided by Referee Joe Manjone

If this is a true Middle School Game that is being played under high school NFHS Rules, the home team must have solid white jerseys and socks and the visiting team must have dark jerseys and socks of a color that contrasts with the home team jersey (NFHS Rule 4-1-1a). This rule was put in place so that there would be no conflict of colors. However, if the teams come with the same color jerseys, the team that does not have the legal color would be responsible for changing. I hope that you have a successful season.

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