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Question Number: 31695

Law 4 - The Players Equipment 8/9/2017

RE: competitive: High school, adult women, youth trave Adult

Robert Belk of Bethesda, MD United States asks...

Under NHSF rules, a rolled bandana, knotted behind the head with the ends flapping in the breeze is considered as ornamentation and is not allowed.

What is the USSF position on this? Based on the USSF position that anything out of the ordinary is not allowed for either referees or players, it would seem logical that a knotted bandana would also not be allowed.

I worked a Super-Y match last Saturday and many players from one team were wearing the knotted bandana. Since both coaches for that team are high school coaches, I commented at halftime that had we been playing NHSF rules, that would not be permitted. As I was uncertain as to the USSF position on this issue I allowed the rolled bandanas.

As many players transition between high school (NHSF) games and USSF matches, it can become an issue.

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Robert,
I am not a USSF referee and not familiar with their position on this but as far as I was aware (and assuming they have not made a specific ruling on this) they operate according to the IFAB's Laws of the Game.

Under these laws, a player may not wear anything that is dangerous. The law goes on to say that ''Non-dangerous protective equipment, for example headgear [...] is permitted ...''

The law also has the following provisions regarding head covers:

''Where head covers (excluding goalkeepers' caps) are worn, they must:

be black or the same main colour as the shirt (provided that the players of the same team wear the same colour)
be in keeping with the professional appearance of the player's equipment
not be attached to the shirt
not be dangerous to the player wearing it or any other player (e.g. opening/ closing mechanism around neck)
not have any part(s) extending out from the surface (protruding elements)''

So if you as a referee, judge that these bandanas are not dangerous and if they comply with the requirements listed above, they may be worn. If on the other hand you judge to the contrary, they should not be worn.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Robert
The Laws of the Game allow for additional equipment to be worn as long as it is not dangerous to the player or opponents. So sweatbands, headbands can be worn and I would put bandanas in that category.
Also FIFA has ruled that hijabs, turbans may now be worn and Referee Grove has quoted the section of the current LotG which was added in 2014.
I think the issue around colour can be somewhat relaxed at lower levels of the game.
I might also add that some local competition rules can apply although I would think that it is not something that is specifically dealt wit.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe Manjone

You are correct concerning the NFHS ruling on knotted, rolled bandanas. Rule 4.2.1 Situation A indicates that bandanas are considered adornment which is illegal and also knotted devices may be dangerous.

I do believe that the USSF does not rule out bandanas, and also allows the official more leeway on determining what is considered dangerous.

Hopefully, high school coaches will be familiar with this rule and will not allow their players to wear the bandannas. Also, the informal pre-game check by the high school referees will result in the players and teams knowing what is permitted, and not entering the game with illegal equipment.

This was a problem 10 or more years ago, but I have not seen high school players wearing bandannas in recent years.

I hope that you have a successful fall season.

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