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Question Number: 31157

League Specific 1/5/2017

RE: competitive Under 19

Luther of Long Island, NY USA asks...

We have a local adult league, sanctioned by US Club, that has modified the players' equipment law to allow the wearing of jewelry.
Is this law subject to modification by individual leagues?

Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Luther,
The Laws of the Game state which modifications are permitted. These modifications may be for players under 16 years, women's, Over 35 years, or matches for people with disabilities. Permitted modifications are size of the field of play, size and weight of the ball, size of the goal, substitutions, and match duration. Law 4 is not permitted to be modified.

I've refereed in leagues which do make other modifications (such as changes to the match duration for men's games, or 'short corners' for young players which otherwise play under full LOTG). I know a number of leagues also choose to 'ignore' the undershorts and sock tape law.

Jewellery is different as this is a particular safety requirement - and if this is actually a directive in writing, then I would expect the league would open themselves up to potential litigation if an injury did result.

Even if not a directive, I would question whether a referee could potentially face litigation if clearly not enforcing this particular law.

Those questions are beyond what we're able to answer on this site but are worth considering. In short though - no, this law cannot be modified.

If it isn't a sanctioned match then anything can happen though.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Luther
This is not a law that can be modified under competition rules. Referee wright has outlined the five laws that can be amended and Law 4 is not one that can be modified
It is also highly unlikely that such a modifications would be allowed with the consent of The IFAB.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Luther,
Short answer is NO!
there is a group of humanity that find themselves enamored to bespeckle themselves or pierce themselves or wear ornamental, sentimental, religious or other bits of jewelry all over the body for any number of reasons. Many enjoy playing soccer as well but find removing these bits of metal and plastic difficult or irritating and claim they can not or will not compromise.

In the REAL world, FIFA or IFAB do not control everything, but they DO provide guidance and they DO have legal obligations that are set out in very specific form to avoid being sued every time some specific individual does something bizarre to themselves.

It is not permitted under the LOTG and extremely risky in my opinion for any league or association to override the basic tenure of NO jewelry simply for the issues created. I can guarantee FIFA and IFAB will not approve of such measures. To do so opens ones self to litigation!

I have had adult leagues where wedding bands are on so tight or studs in ears or nose or lip that would require amputation to remove! I have seen hidden jewelry from toe rings to belly button ,tongue and the OTHER regions of the anatomy we shall not speak about raw and bleeding in collisions during soccer or sports matches where you have to wonder why even if we really know why it was done. sigh

I have had coaches come up to me and claim the young lady cannot remove her ear piercings as the holes could be infected or cover over. Adults claiming their removal of rings or necklaces too difficult too painful. We are not Hawaii 5 O detectives looking for jewelry violations. If you are taping a Saint Christopher medal to your chest under your jersey so the necklace is tight about the body not flopping about to catch a finger or eye chances are I do not see it so IT is not an issue. You tape up a ring on a finger turn it inward covered in a piece of foam, or under a glove chances are I do not see it so IT is not an issue You put tape over the ears claiming to cover the holes but the studs are there and I do not see it , It, is not an issue. Although I get that recreational matches where fun not necessarily competition is the aim, I WILL NOT permit jewelry that I can OBVIOUSLY see is a risk in ANY competitive match. I will ask those so adorned to remove it or else retire to the touchlines. I can do this because in a competitive setting there is NO excuse that justifies not to. At the local park, at a kick around, who is going to get bent if you are a pirate or wear a band that is not easily removed? But at a tournament or any top flight level if you want to play soccer best choose your attire carefully as in ANY decision with responsibility and accountability there are always consequences! Can you abide by what they may be?
Cheers and Happy New Year

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Luther,
Certainly under the IFAB's Laws of the Game, the law on jewellery is not one of those parts that it is permitted to modify. I am not familiar with the 'US Club' and don't know under whose auspices they claim to operate but I actually don't know of any set of rules or laws for Association Football that allows such a modification.

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