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Question Number: 31916

Law 4 - The Players Equipment 10/17/2017

RE: 5th grade Under 11

Mandee Seeley of Sisters, Oregon United States asks...

I work for the local parks and rec. We go by us youth soccer rules but I can't find an answer to this.

We have a 5th grader with a hard cast in Sisters, Oregon. She wants to play but we're getting different answers about whether it's allowed or not. The game is this Saturday (10/21), please help. We need something in writing if the parent gives us a hard time if she can't play.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Mendee
Sometimes the wearing of casts is covered by a local competition rule so as to reduce inconsistencies and make it easier for officials. If not then we go to Law 4 which is the Players Equipment Law.
Law 4 states that a player may not use equipment that is dangerous to himself or another player. This is further expanded upon whereby it is advised that players may use equipment that has the sole purpose of protecting the individual physically providing that it poses no danger to the individual or any other players. To quote the relevant section ** Non-dangerous protective equipment, for example headgear, facemasks and knee and arm protectors made of soft, lightweight padded material is permitted as are goalkeepers’ caps and sports spectacles**.
By default hard plaster casts which are neither soft, lightweight or padded are considered to pose a significant danger to both the wearer and other players and are not permitted to be worn. While some might not think there is a danger arms are used in a variety of way such as shielding, balance while jumping, running etc. So there are many ways that a player can make contact on an opponent with a hard cast.. The practice of padding a hard plaster cast does not reduce the element of danger. Now players wearing a soft cast may be permitted to play if the cast does not present a danger to the individual or any other player.
The referee on the day who has been appointed to the match will make the final decision as to the acceptability of any *soft* cast. Referees are well used to getting a hard time about not alllowing dangerous items such as casts, jewellery etc. Ultimately the decision rests with the referee.
Also a word of advice for parents. If it is a hard cast it is there to immobilize the arm and to help in the healing process. Playing sports is not advisable as it does strain the limb plus there is a serious risk of falling perhaps risking further injury or strain. In addition casts do not react well to moisture including sweat. If the cast gets damaged it may need to be redone.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Mandee,
The LOTG are adapted to conform for youth requirements but the principles of safety are ALWAYS the same. The referee must not allow any player possessing any unsafe equipment. It might seem arbitrary that the opinion of one referee may differ with another as to what constitutes acceptable versus unacceptable be it equipment or behaviour

To assist the referee from using his or her OPINION it is suggested that leagues or association form their own POLICIES & bylaws to deal with subjective arbitration such as what constitutes a danger and what could be allowed when it comes to non specified equipment or clothing or protective gear.

Compassion often is a ruse in that we allow the poor child with the cast to play but forget that when the player gets excited she swings around with her hard cast catch the leading nose of the opponent breaking her eye glasses suddenly our compassion is switched is it not?

The parent may choose to believe as they wish. Some have extreme views where I believe they place too much pressure on the kids trying to replace, fix repair their own childhood with their kids efforts or allow too much freedom to choose from the adult options when kids need more guidance & discipline to understand the risks involved with only what you feel you want rather than what it right! The problems of life lessons many go unlearned no matter what age is obtained!

The biggest influence of attitude is the perceived responses. One can be disappointed in an outcome but to react with venom and anger because an overly concerned individual says you cannot have what YOU want because he /she feels thee might e a problem Is a child denied an opportunity seeking to blame or understand? There is a REASON casts are on the body, that part of the body is injured? Could it receive greater injury?

My suggestion write up a clear set of bylaws to assist those imbued with compassion to rethink allowing injurious option to override the LOTG


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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Mandee,
The USYS organisation uses the IFAB's Laws of the Game, with some modifications for younger players in regard to such things as playing time, ball, pitch and goal size etc.

So for anything related to the players' equipment, the provisions of Law 4 apply. The relevant parts say that, ''A player must not use equipment or wear anything that is dangerous,'' and ''Non-dangerous protective equipment, for example headgear, facemasks and knee and arm protectors made of soft, lightweight padded material is permitted ...'' If you want something in writing, this wording is available by going to the following page address:

and following the link to the Laws of the Game on the FIFA website.

Based on this wording, I would say that a hard, unpadded cast would most probably not be allowed (and for me, should not be allowed) by most if not all referees. If the cast is light enough and covered by padded material, it could be allowed, again at the discretion of the referee,who is responsible for deciding whether it is dangerous or not.

I don't believe it is possible under the Laws of the Game, to certify ahead of time whether a specific piece of equipment is permissible or not, it is always up to the referee to decide on the day of the game.

Incidentally, and although it has nothing to do directly with the Laws of the Game I would also agree with my colleagues that it might not always be the wisest course of action for a player with a damaged arm to play, due to the risk of aggravating the injury. For me, if a 5th grade player has an injury requiring a cast to help it heal, my strong personal inclination would be to allow the child's limb to heal fully and only consider letting them play once the cast has been removed. For instance, when my own daughter had her wrist in a light cast when she was about 11 years old, it never even crossed my mind to let her play until she had fully recovered. I find it difficult to imagine any game that a player of that age would be playing in, that would be so important as to be worth the risk of further injury.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe Manjone


I recommend that you use the high school rule concerning casts, because it would allow this player to safely participate.

The high school rule (4-2-1c) indicates that casts worn on the hand, wrist, forearm, elbow, upper arm or shoulder must be covered and padded with a closed-cell, slow recovery foam padding no less than 1/2 inch thick. Players with the proper covering and padding are permitted to participate as they are no longer a danger to other players.

This rule was approved by the Medical Advisory Committee (Medical Doctors) of the National Federation of High Schools.

Hopefully, this information will help in your decision concerning this player.

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