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Question Number: 31083

Law 4 - The Players Equipment 12/4/2016

RE: Regional Under 14

Neil Jacobs of Peterborough, England asks...

A bit of a strange one more to do with maintaining the credibility of the referee than clarifying a rule. My son stopped to do his shoe laces up mid match and when the referee saw him pulled him up on it saying 'you need my permission to do those up. Don't do it again'. My son is a quiet lad and took this to heart but didn't tell me until on the way home so I didn't have chance to clarify the position with the ref. Surely players don't need permission of the ref to do their laces up do they?

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Neil,
the referee has a duty to ensure the safety of players and their reasonable adherence to the LOTG beyond doubtful or trifling. A player who has equipment issues can request to leave the FOP to fix said items if they require replacement or pose some danger, studs on boots come off , blood on shirt, lost shin pads OR they can be ordered off the field to fix such things.
Laces coming undone, even losing shoe is not a reason to stop play although the continued play of a player without a shoe could result in PIADM as it could become dangerous in a challenge. The laces can be a tripping hazard as is getting the foot broken by being stepped on or ankle twisted and as such a referee might suggest to a player to tie them up or put one back on properly , even request they exit to be safe, so they do not eat a ball in the face or get a knee under the chin while stopped in mid-play. Perhaps thinking there is assistance on the touchlines who might do a more secure job of solving the equipment issue ! I would hope the referee felt the young player was putting himself at risk of being hit by ball or run into by players given where he was doing the tying or fixing the boot and sought to ensure no harm. But sadly NO if we look to the LOTG your son does not require the referees' permission to tie a shoe. Having to ask to tie a shoe is not something a referee should instruct a player that to do so actually requires his permission because it does not, however, your son does need to follow the match referee instructions as a fact of play and as part of the field conditions to avoid needless dissent. For example IF your son was kneeling down in front of an opposition free kick tying their shoes, an old classic delay the restart, your son could even be cautioned and shown a yellow card for such a blatant act of match deception. LOL While the referee perhaps exceeded his mandate we can hope he meant well. Your son should be applauded for showing respect to the referee despite his incredulousness of the request.
His match. His Decision. His Reputation.
Cheers and Merry Christmas

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Neil
No a player does not need the referees permission to tie his lace! Now most times players want the game held up to do it so I cannot understand why a referee would get involved here. Some player even do it deliberately as a way of delaying the restart such as at a kick off.
The only issue that I could see is that if a player was bent down in an area of constant match traffic there is a danger to the player of perhaps getting knocked down by opponents or hit by the ball.
It is more likely that the referee has mis interpreted Law 4 when it requires a player to seek the referees permission to leave the field of play to correct equipment. Tying laces on the field of play is not an issue that the referee has to get involved with.

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