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Question Number: 33616

High School 9/2/2019

RE: Varsity High School

Mike Fricano of Aiea, Hawaii USA asks...

NFHS Rules 2019-20 define illegally equipped as '...not wearing equipment required by rule or wearing in item/items not allowed by rule.' Rule 4-2 is fairly specific in listing items NOT allowed. However, Rule 4-1 is less specific in defining required equipment. On one hand, it states 'required equipment includes a jersey, shorts, socks, suitable shoes, and shinguards.' On the other hand, required equipment worn, but not in compliance with Rule 4-1 in not clearly defined as illegal or improper. The Situations and Rulings describe many examples called 'illegal,' but do they require cautions? For example, are yellow cards required for visiting jerseys that have colored piping, shinguards that do not meet NOCSAE standards, 'bumblebee' socks, numbers that are smaller than required, or goalkeeper jerseys without numbers? Or, are these offenses 'improper?'

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Mike
In a perfect world none of what you mention would happen. Teams would be impeccably attired causing no issues for the referee to deal with.
Now we know that does not happen in the real world and referees have to deal with the circumstances presented.
For any referee safety is paramount and if shin guards do not meet the required standard then the player does not play. That would be the case across all codes of the game.
Now I have no experience of NFHS rules other than interpreting what is written in the rule book with a refereeing mindset.
As to apparel that does not meet the standard the rules state that the game should be played and the matter reported to the state association.
Now once the referee knows that the equipment as a group is not correct by not meeting the standard before kick off he has to deal with that by trying to get it sorted before the game starts and if that is not possible the game proceeds and it is reported as per the rules. Safety matters such as shin pads, illegal braces, etc must be dealt with.
On the illegal apparel question for me once there is *acceptance* of the improper equipment being allowed for play then the game proceeds with no cards and the matter dealt with on report.
It is a different matter if an individual player is identified as having illegal equipment and the rules spell out the individual sanction which is a yellow card for the coach for the first offence and yellow cards for the player after that.
As a general principle cards are there to control the game. In my game at the weekend a team did not have a Number 4 jersey and the competition rules stated that teams have jersies numbered 1 to 11 as per the roster. He wore 14 in the game.
I have in the past asked goalkeepers to change shirts due to colour clashes with the only shirt available having no number. I accept that and I know it is No 1. If he is subbed out I make a note of the replacement number if he uses the same jersey, Under no circumstances would a card be appropriate or even considered in such circumstances particularly when agreed to proceed previously.

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