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Question Number: 31636

Law 4 - The Players Equipment 7/7/2017

RE: Rec Under 6

Norm Yelverton of South Daytona, Fl United States asks...

In a game last night in my Pee Wee soccer rec league we had a player (goalie)that was wearing sunglasses. The referee asked the young man to remove the sunglasses and the parents had a fit, stating this is Florida and the sun is bright. We explained that a goalie wearing sunglasses could be a safety issue with kids kicking the ball at the goal. These were not safety glasses or goggles, just regular sunglasses. Is there any particular rule that covers this in recreational youth soccer.

South Daytona Athletic Director
Norm Yelverton

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Norm
The question of glasses comes up regularly on the site. It is a matter for the referee to decide if the glasses are a safety issue or not and he is supported in law when he refuses to allow the glasses to be worn as quoted by Referee Grove. My personal view is that they are a risk and should not be worn.
In the case of sunglasses which are a luxury compared to necessary glasses I would certainly not allow them to be worn. The goalkeeper if he got a ball kicked into the face could get injured by the frames.
In the US every year, hospital emergency departments throughout the country treat over 45,000 sports-related and recreational eye injuries. More than half are suffered by children of which roughly 4% are attributable to soccer. In addition researchers found injuries related to wearing eyeglasses sent an estimated 27,000 people to emergency rooms in the U.S. during a two-year period. More than 1,000 of those injured by their eyeglasses were admitted to the hospital for further treatment for their injuries.Those are the stats on this.
Now I was working recently on an outboard fishing boat engine and it required a replacement part. I located a supplier who had a warning posted on top of his instructions on how to change the part. I quote
**Notes on Safety - Always use eye protection, There are no workshop manuals here for eye repairs and replacements are not available !! **
My refereeing background immediately had me thinking about soccer and eye injuries. When it comes to wearing glasses in soccer there is an inherent risk of getting hit with the ball. It is for that reason that the safety sports goggles were introduced for those that cannot wear soft contact lenses. The frames of regular glasses including sunglasses can break and cause puncture wounds. Modern lenses are now plastic and do not break easily so that has been a huge improvement.
Now I know many referees will not allow players to play with regular glasses while others allow same after ensuring that there is obvious risk such as flimsy metal frames etc. Most I believe would not allow the sunglasses as they are non essential compared to prescription glasses.
A friends son got hit recently with a ball in the face at school, on a yard kick about, breaking the frames of his glasses and giving him a small cut close to the eye. While not serious it certainly highlighted the inherent danger of the frames causing injury to the eye.
My advice is that the same parent that throws a fit about this would also throw a much serious fit if the child got a serious eye injury. Not seeing the ball properly because of the sun pales into insignificance compared to a permanent eye injury. While chances of an injury is low perhaps this question might answer the debate. Would a referee be happy to witness an eye injury in a game caused by glasses, be advised that a child is in hospital who received an eye injury in a game due to wearing glasses or to receive a writ for negligence in the post seeking compensation for an injury sustained by glasses in a game. While I want to see everyone play I also have a responsibility for safety both to the participants and ultimately to myself.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Norm,
as a referee who wears glasses or contacts I understand the safety issue quite well. Sunglasses are not that well constructed and in my opinion are anon essential luxury item given we allow a brimmed cap for a keeper. When ever possible those playing sports should endeavour to get proper prescription sports gasses that will minimize any damage upon impact. WE can and should embrace safety technology but in many parts of the world any eye ware is a challenge and expensive extra eye wear simply not a possibility. Kids without proper vision who would want to participate but denied unless they did not wear their glasses is also a safety concern. I find the jewelry and religious items to be far more irritating than thee necessity of seeing to play effectively! There was a creator of foam headwear for soccer players that met with a great deal of resistance a to whether the kids are truly safer with it then without it . They called it the superman syndrome I have safety stuff thus I am invincible . New rules for youth heading and the ability of laser surgery along with special contacts is actually making glasses obsolete. That I think is a good thing. I am a referee who allow glasses as long as in MY opinion they are well constructed , not put together with barbwire or tape and have a safety strap.
I receive much flack from colleagues who think as Ref McHugh just ban all glasses as unsafe. Sorry I do not subscribe to that ideology albeit I can respect it. I find jewelry far more problematic.


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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Norm,
Assuming this is a game played under the IFAB's Laws of the Game, the law that covers this is Law 4 - The Player's Equipment and the very first line in it states: ''A player must not use equipment or wear anything that is dangerous.'' Another potentially applicable part of Law 4 says that ''Non-dangerous protective equipment [...] is permitted as are goalkeepers' caps and sports spectacles.''

So if these were not sports spectacles (and it doesn't appear as if they were) and the referee sees them as dangerous then the referee is perfectly entitled to ask the player to remove them.

I am with referee McHugh in believing that normal, everyday eyewear that was not specifically designed for sports use and has hard, inflexible components that can penetrate the skin when struck by a ball, is inherently dangerous and should not be permitted. Like him, I have personal knowledge of the damage that can be caused by non-sports glasses (and the scars to prove it).

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