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Question Number: 31182
Law 4 - The Players Equipment 1/15/2017
RE: Under 14
Nik of Maidenhead, U.K. asks...
Hi we played a team today that tucked the laces in to their boots rather than tiring them up, is this correct?
If that boot comes off and injures a player or even if the player in question is injured in a tackle then who is liable?
Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh
How laces are tied is of little concern to the game or the referee. I see players ties their laces and then tuck extra length inside the boot. The boot is correctly tied or at least that is the way it looked to me. Only happened yesterday in my game. Now I personally could not have a lace tucked in the boot yet plainly others can. So be it. Referees have enough responsibilities without worrying about lace tying method or lack thereof.
Now I have been involved in the game for a very long time and I have never seen an injury from a lost boot. I have even tied laces for very young players on the FOP. I have told players that their lace is open yet I would never question lace tying methods. Anyway should it ever happen it would be nigh impossible to prove negligence and that the player knowingly did something that caused injury. That is not going to happen. Should such a claim ever happen it is time for me to walk away from the game.
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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright
This isn't something that the referee needs to worry about - if the shoes were that likely to come off, I would imagine the players wouldn't keep doing it.
Even if a boot is tied up there's no guarantee it's tied tight, so I don't think there's any benefit to the referee worrying about this.
In terms of how the referee approaches it if the shoe comes off - a foul must be 'careless' at a minimum. If somebody's shoe flies off and hits somebody, is it a careless kick (let's assuming the kicked object - the shoe - counts as a kick)? Or is it accidental? I'd argue the latter, and I think most referees would. Shoes come off once in a blue moon.
If, say, the shoe flies off and interferes with the keeper as he's trying to save a shot, the wise referee will find some excuse to not allow the goal - and you could, at a stretch, fit it into a few offences to find a free kick. But that's a particular situation where fairness demands intervention, and the laws permit it (just).
What if a player who loses a shoe keeps playing? Well, they're allowed to keep going with that phase of play - but if they engage in a tackle, or retain the ball as an opponent is approaching to tackle, then they are putting themselves at risk. Playing in a Dangerous Manner (PIADM) encompasses the player putting themselves at risk as well as others, so this would be an indirect free kick.
As for questions of 'liability' from the legal sense - that's not the interest of the referee. Accidents happen, and it's one of the least likely possibilities for injury.
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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove
I can't imagine that an entire team would choose (or that a coach would allow them) to play with boots that were tied in such a way that they would be constantly coming off. I notice also that you don't say that any of their boots did come off, just what might happen if they did. So it sounds to me as if there probably wasn't really any problem here.
I would also agree with my colleagues' observations that even when a boot does come off (an occurrence I have seen a fair few times) it very rarely causes any real problems or danger except perhaps to the player themselves. If so, the referee can stop play at that point but more often than not, in my experience it's OK to let play continue - and the Laws allow for this to happen.
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