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Question Number: 32654

Law 5 - The Referee 8/18/2018

RE: Under 16

samuel of Seattle, WA usa asks...

I would like to ask a question regarding the use of hats/sunglasses. Why does it seem like IFAB/FIFA wants to intentionally make things as difficult as possible for referees?

Hats aren't that big of a deal but I know sometimes they are frowned upon, even fully black hats. Hats provide a great deal of sun relief, why do they need to try to create friction over their use?

And sunglasses, I can understand the eye contact aspect. But referees in other sports like MLB baseball umpires in a similar situation to soccer referees freely wear sunglasses. Sunglasses exist to give people relief from looking into the sun and glare. Glare is a common issue I run into on fields, especially turf fields, especially wearing contact lenses in heat on turf fields that sunglasses help shield my eyes from the glare/heat blasts with wind. People act like sunglasses are black paper completely covering your eyes when in reality all they do is give a slightly darker/greyed tone to the world and do not affect my vision in any way, shape or form when refereeing. Even coaches will wear sunglasses so why is it so bad for me to wear them? People wear sunglasses in every other aspect of their lives including driving and other sports ballplayers do as well.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Samuel
There are two aspects here.
One is safety and the other is how it looks.
On the safety side referees have from time to time been struck in the head with a ball. Wearing any sorts of glasses increases the risk of serious injury.
Have a look at this video
Some think it funny yet imagine wearing glasses in such a situation.
On the second one there is an element of it looking different and perhaps unprofessional. I know that referees who wear glasses tend to be viewed unfavourably in that their eyesight is somewhat limited or that they are not taking the game seriously if wearing sunglasses.
I also believe that at the highest level how it looks is important and sometimes the *fashion police* have a say in the examples of undershorts colour, head covering colour etc.
I would also say that for the referees that want to progress they will always conform to the norm and what is expected. For those that are none too bothered I would say that they wear sunglasses, hats etc. They do not expect to get high level games

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Samuel,
Neither FIFA nor the IFAB has any officially-published position on referees wearing hats or sunglasses, as far as I am aware. Certainly, they are not mentioned in the Laws of the Game. I think it's more a question of the refereeing authorities in each country not being in favour of them, as a general rule. Also, as far as sunglasses go, there is the safety aspect to consider, as ref McHugh mentions.

I think there is a common perception in refereeing circles that hats and sunglasses are just not appropriate attire for referees in most cases, rather than there being any formal rule against them. I have seen match officials (AR's) in high-level games wearing baseball caps when the sun was causing them problems, which is another indication that they are not officially prohibited.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Samuel,
if those who control the matches frown upon it and decided they prefer you do not but then you do. Their personal opinions strengthened by the political will and authority they have over your career could decided you are not suitable for advancement.

There is no LOTG stating they are not to be used only a preference not to.

I posses a set of normal glasses that darken in the sun but I mostly wear contacts rather than glasses as the, can not see with 4 eyes never mind two, often follow me about. Darkened sunglasses give a perception of poor vision & a set of mirrored ones are simply NOT a consideration if you were to do so!

As for hats most pro referees ref a single match in a given day, tournament referees I have refereed 4 or 5 a day, to heck with not wearing a hat on a sunny day, I do and blast those who think otherwise!

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