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Question Number: 32464

Law 5 - The Referee 5/22/2018

RE: Rec Under 14

Doug Crawford of Oakland, CA USA asks...

This question is a follow up to question 32461

Hi Panel - My 2 cents on sunglasses and my personal experience.
I am a primary care physician trained in Family Medicine, and a youth soccer referee. Exposure to sunlight increases the risk of a number of eye health problems, most notably cataracts, but quite a few other problems as well.

I have discussed this with physicians in the know whom I trust, and reviewed the topic today on my trusted medical reference (, which requires a subscription). It is also mentioned at in their article on the sun.

I choose to wear sunglasses for most games in the sun as I think my health is important. I referee for exercise, to keep myself socially active, and to participate in community activities. I don't want to damage my eyes in the process.

I wouldn't call sun exposure dangerous, just unnecessary. I do make it a point to remove sunglasses to talk to almost anyone, especially to players at a stoppage, and at check in.

I do know that sunglasses can decrease eye to eye contact w my fellow refs, but it is the price I feel I have to pay. I know the sunglasses are frowned upon by some refs, and of course would not be tolerated by any assessor.

Something to think about!
Take care, and thanks for your great discussion forum. /Doug

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Doug,
thanks for the feedback and insight.
As you could tell we are not always against there use, we only point out that at the elite matches they tend to frown. And like you mention you take them off to speak to the players. The eye contact is on based on looking at the ARS and vice versa the CR which is why at the elite level they harp on it so, They have buzzers and radio communications so in reality it is far more likely that the sun glasses would affect their communication less than at the grassroots .

The facts are I wear a hat and sunscreen to protect myself if I thought I required sun glasses I would indeed use them. You can still see thumbs up and waves or flags so sunglasses do not stop all sight issues! No matter the catcalls from the spectators .

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Doug
Many thanks for your insight and views on this.
Once a referee finds his level and is content with that then progression may not be sought nor worried about. With that in mind observations, refereeing marks etc is of limited concern. I know referees who are none too bothered about concerns like referee jewellery, use of gloves, proper mechanics, fitness etc. They understand that to progress they need to meet the higher elite standards to move up the referee rankings. Individual items such as sunglasses use might not be reported in observer reports yet I would say probably does have a bearing on the opinion / judgement of the referees use in certain games.
Also as I said if a referee can manage any negative side of glasses use particularly sunglasses then so be it. In this part of the world I see potential for dissent, sideline misconduct which any referee can do without. We just dont see sunglasses as it is not seen as the norm and therefore no referee wants to be an outlier on it.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Doug,
I agree with the basic thrust of your argument, which is why I said in my response that depending on the exact climatic conditions, wearing sunglasses could be permissible, even though they are not recommended as a general rule and would not be seen in high level games, such as at professional and international level. In an NFHS game that is not being played in such exalted circumstances and given the kind of extremely sunny weather that can be experienced in parts of the US, I can see a health and safety rationale for their use.

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