Soccer Referee Resources
Ask a Question
Recent Questions

RSS FEED Subscribe Now!

Q&A Quick Search
The Field of Play
The Ball
The Players
The Players Equipment
The Referee
The Other Match Officials
The Duration of the Match
The Start and Restart of Play
The Ball In and Out of Play
Fouls and Misconduct
Free Kicks
Penalty kick
Throw In
Goal Kick
Corner Kick

Common Sense
Kicks - Penalty Mark
The Technical Area
The Fourth Official
Attitude and Control
League Specific
High School

Common Acronyms
Meet The Ref
Contact AskTheRef
Help Wanted
About AskTheRef
Panel Login

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

Hi Nik
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.

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Nik,
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.

Read other questions answered by Referee Jason Wright

View Referee Jason Wright profile

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Nik,
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.

Read other questions answered by Referee Peter Grove

View Referee Peter Grove profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 31182
Read other Q & A regarding Law 4 - The Players Equipment

Soccer Referee Extras

Did you Ask the Ref? Find your answer here.

Enter Question Number

If you received a response regarding a submitted question enter your question number above to find the answer

Offside Question?

Offside Explained by Chuck Fleischer & Richard Dawson, Former & Current Editor of AskTheRef

This web site and the answers to these questions are not sanctioned by or affiliated with any governing body of soccer. The opinions expressed on this site should not be considered official interpretations of the Laws of the Game and are merely opinions of AskTheRef and our panel members. If you need an official ruling you should contact your state or local representative through your club or league. On AskTheRef your questions are answered by a panel of licensed referees. See Meet The Ref for details about our panel members.