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Laws of the Game/Player Safety

To: All Organizational Members

From: Chris Branscome, Chief Executive Officer

CC: Board of Directors, EPSARC

Date: August 23, 2022

RE: Laws of the Game/ Player Safety  

As the 22-23 soccer year is kicking off , there are a few items, I would like to review with our membership. As most teams are now training and preparing for the upcoming season, it’s a great time for coaches and players to review the laws of the game.  

We assume that everyone is truly aware and has studied the Laws of the Game. Referees are trained and re-certified on an annual basis, but coaches and players are not. We assume the rules are known, but generally they’re not known in detail or nuance. Too often, misunderstandings occur on game day and it leads to issues sometimes resulting in disciplinary measures.  

It’s my belief that coaches and referees are partners in the management of any game. Each has certain responsibilities, but the most important is the care and safety of the players. Referees and coaches should consider themselves colleagues within soccer. Ultimately, both positions coexist to foster the game, to teach it, to perpetuate it and to grow it. I strongly urge that pregame meetings include introductions and greetings, and not merely an exchange of money and rosters. Referees and coaches together are the adults managing the experience for the children. Respect for each other, and the game, is of the utmost importance.  

This memo is not meant to provide any detail regarding the laws or any recent updates. We will provide any additional information or updates in cooperation with the State Referee Committee. Additional information can be found at their website, However, there are some specific items to highlight as we entering this season. Today’s focus is on player safety and equipment. Law 4- the Players Equipment.  

“A player must not use equipment or wear anything that is dangerous. All items of jewelry (necklaces, rings, bracelets, earrings, leather bands, rubber bands, etc.) are forbidden and must be removed. Using tape to cover jewelry is not permitted.

The players must be inspected before the start of the match and substitutes before they enter the field of play. If a player is wearing or using unauthorized/dangerous equipment or jewelry, the referee must order the player to:

  • remove the item
  • leave the field of play at the next stoppage if the player is unable or unwilling to comply

A player who refuses to comply or wears the item again must be cautioned.

A point of clarification- whereas the Laws of the Game specifically do not mention certain items in the category of “hair accessories”, the interpretation of this is that soft accessories such as elastic bands, “scrunchies”, sweatbands and padded headbands are acceptable. Hard accessories, which have long been construed as “jewelry” in the Laws of the game, such hair clips or beads or other metal or plastic objects, cannot be worn.  

This same section may apply to medical equipment- braces, splints or casts. Each situation can be different and requires the game officials at the field to make the determination as to player safety.  

In addition, Law 5- The Referee, states “The referee has the full authority to enforce the Laws of the Game in connection with the match.” Covering or padding any specific item of concern is at the discretion of the referee.  

Law 5 further states, “Decisions will be made to the best of the referee's ability according to the Laws of the Game and the ‘spirit of the game’ and will be based on the opinion of the referee, who has the discretion to take appropriate action within the framework of the Laws of the Game.” We ask that referees and coaches work together to find safe and reasonable responses to safety concerns. Our goal is to allow for all children to participate and play the games in a safe and controlled environment.  

A shared responsibility of the coaches, players and referees to be sure to remove any such items prior to the game. All clubs should educate their coaches and players on the Laws of the Game. A session for parents is advisable as well. When these matters arise, please be respectful and considerate of each other regarding these matters. Referees should speak to the coach who should talk to their player.  

Our collective purpose is to provide all children with a safe and fun opportunity to participate in this great game. When we all work together towards this common goal, regardless of the level of skill, ability or competition, the experience is better for everyone. More positive experiences leads to keeping more kids in the game.