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Question Number: 6188

Law 18 - Common Sense

RE: Rec and Travel Under 14

ProfZodiac of Framingham, MA USA asks...

Okay, at the BigSoccer referee forum, there has been a long and heated debate about the new headgear that is starting to become more and more popular. I have spent the entire time arguing against allowing the gear in the game for various reasons. Some of those were resolved earlier this week when a poster posted a FIFA circular stating that referees are to allow the headgear. My original points were:..1. It is not part of the uniform, and therefore I don't have to allow it..2. If not everybody has one, the uniforms are different...Both of those violate Law 4, but FIFA recently resolved those issues. My newer points are harder to prove, but may prove integral to the use of said product...3. If one kid wears this, there will be a "Superman" effect in which the player will go for tackles much more aggressively than he normally would, as he would think he is invincible with the headgear on..4. If one kid wears this, what will that do to the other players? The opposite of the "Superman" effect is my guess from an uneducated point-of-view. Those kids who are not wearing the gear will feel that they are at risk in going for a header, and the game will suffer as a result of the paranoia of the players...These two go against Law 19, the ever-useful Common Sense Law, and if not that, then it clearly hurts the Spirit of the Game. As such, I still am very hesitant to allow the gear on my field. As a result of the FIFA directive, I've obviously been forced to allow them on the field, at least to start the game...My question is such:..Can I ask a player to remove the headgear if I feel it is affecting the game in a negative manner? And if the player (or his overprotective parents) refuse to remove the headgear, can I direct the player to leave the field? And if so, what is the official justification of the removal, seeing as the player has technically not violated any of the cautionable or ejectionable fouls?..Thanks in advance,..ProfZodiac on BigSoccer.AKA Adam

Answer provided by Referee Chuck Fleischer

From the U.S. Soccer Communications Center -- Sept. 4, 2003..Memorandum..To: State Referee Administrators. State Youth Referee Administrators. State Directors of Referee Instruction. State Directors of Referee Assessment. National Referee Instructors and Trainers. National Assessors. National Referees..From: Alfred Kleinaitis. Manager of Referee Development and Education..Subject: Players Wearing Non-Compulsory Equipment..Date: September 3, 2003..______________________________________________________________________..On August 25, 2003, FIFA issued Circular #863, regarding the legality of players wearing non-compulsory equipment...FIFA notes that, under the "Powers and Duties" of the referee in Law 5 -- The Referee, he or she has the authority to ensure that the players' equipment meets the requirements of Law 4, which states that a player must not wear anything that is dangerous...Modern protective equipment such as headgear, facemasks, knee and arm protectors made of soft, lightweight, padded material are not considered dangerous and are therefore permitted...FIFA also wishes to strongly endorse the statement on the use of sports spectacles made by the International F.A. Board on March 10, 2001, and subsequently in FIFA Circular #750, dated April 10, 2001. New technology has made sports spectacles much safer, both for the player himself or herself and for other players. This applies particularly to younger players...Referees are expected to take full account of this fact and it would be considered extremely unusual for a referee to prevent a player taking part in a match because he or she was wearing modern sports spectacles...Referees are reminded of the following points which can assist in guiding their decisions on this matter: ..* Look to the applicable rules of the competition authority..* Inspect the equipment..* Focus on the equipment itself - not how it might be improperly used, or whether it actually protects the player..* Remember that the referee is the final word on whether equipment is dangerous...This was received today. The statement is that by forwarding the circular US Soccer has made this policy within the federation. Comply with the policy...If, you as referee, consider a player is using protective equipment to give himself an unfair advantage then consider it as unsporting behavior and deal with it then and there. There is no need to require its removal, just deal with its misuse. Because FIFA and US Soccer do not consider this protective equipment inherently dangerous, you shouldn't. ..In this case common sense is against you, when a player can protect himself with something specifically made for the Game then disallowing it is failing to protect that player. This is something we must not do. We, too, must protect the opposing player, as always, from an over exuberant footballer. This is not difficult because we do that as a matter of course...We can debate until we're blue in the face but this looks a like something we just better accept, because it's here to stay...Regards,

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Answer provided by Referee Dawson

Hi PZ,.my colleague ref Fleischer has given you all that information that is currently available from those who make the decisions. It is clear FIFA has given the nod to go ahead to allow this equipment IF it is safe in YOUR opinion. Once you decide it is safe then you can not tell them to remove it because they play in superman mode. You simply discipline the behaviour. Tradition and a referee sense of fairplay are hard to set aside when innovation and change creeps in. The key is to separate your personal dislike of something and the NEED to act on the safety issue. ..As the BIGSOCCER Discussion may have shown you, referees are notoriously hardheaded and resistant to outright changes unless they are truly convinced it is good for the game. In this incident we have money and legal concerns as part of the equation. I swear you would think ALL referees are from Missouri (the SHOW ME state!);o)..Whether we truly believe these items are a manufacture's heartfelt concern for a safety issue or a play on the fears that something bad might happen without it and some handshakes in the behind the scene approval it is here and likely to stay with us. The concern to protect from injury is a noble cause and difficult to argue against even if we believe ulterior motives of monetary considerations or design flaws may factor into the equation. I do think the REAL concern is any design flaws or material is subject to severe scrutiny to ensure the safety feature is truly addressed. Good intentions may well be sincerly thought but generally it takes time to work out all the bugs from any new idea...If you contact Jim Allen at the USSF official site you will find the official response I think you are looking for. At we have an international perspective. We are not totally observant of USSF directives and proceedures although the majority of our responses are geared to that end. I watched the Canadian womens team trounce Mexico 8 to zero here in Edmonton and Charlene Hooper one of our leading strikers uses the headgear as much as a bandana for her hair as a saftey device. ;o).Cheers

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Answer provided by Referee Gary Sebalja

Some answers to your points...1) It is not part of required equipment but law 4 doesn't say it can't be allowed..2) The basic equipment is adhered to so there is no difference in uniform...3) USB or Plays in a manner considered to be dangerous..4) USB or Plays in a manner considered to be dangerous

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