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Pre-Game Inspection Items (including casts, splints, earrings...)Printable

Pregame Inspections and Player Safety
Player safety begins with the parent properly equipping their young player. Coaches should reinforce the importance of player safety and help make certain that players and their parents are aware of the safety requirements and rules related to the game of soccer and that players arrive at the field properly prepared for play. Many people will notice that the youth soccer referee will conduct a “safety inspection” prior to the start of a match. Following are some of the items being inspected by the referee.
Shin Guards
All players must wear shin guards. These must be made of a “suitable material” and provide a “reasonable degree of protection”. Furthermore, they must be worn UNDER the socks. It is NOT acceptable to fold the socks down over the top of the shin guard.
Jewelry
Players may not wear jewelry. Also included in this area are watches. Please do not permit players to come to the soccer field wearing jewelry or watches of any kind. That only creates an opportunity for them to be lost or damaged as they are handed to somebody to hold.

In FIFA's annual memo to referees for 2006, FIFA took care to point out to referees that leather and rubber bracelets (such as the popular "friendship" bracelets and the "Live Strong" and similar bracelets) are a form of jewelry and may not be worn. This directive stems from multiple reports of fingers being broken after becoming entangled in this items, which admittedly do not appear to be dangerous at first inspection. However, the FIFA memo makes it clear that these are NOT to be worn. So, leave them home so that they do not get lost when removed at the field.

  • Earrings
    There is the mistaken notion that players may be permitted to wear earrings if tape of some sort is placed over them. That is not true. Even taped, players are NOT permitted to wear earrings. Also, some players will indicate that their ears were recently pierced and they have been instructed that they should not remove the earrings. If the earrings cannot be removed, then the player cannot play. Coaches are encouraged to communicate this to their players so that they will time their new ear piercing to be healed before the start of games.
  • Medical Alert and Religious Jewelry
    FIFA makes an exception to the “no jewelry” rule to permit the wearing of medical alert type bracelets or necklaces. However, these items must not pose a risk to other players and should be taped so that they cannot swing around or be loose enough that player’s hands or fingers become entangled in them.

    FIFA also notes that, at this time, the number of jewelry items that [i]cannot be removed for religious reasons is quite limited, and requires that any jewelry which falls into this category should be identified to the responsible organization PRIOR to any match so that the referee can be appropriately briefed. Note: As of this writing, FIFA has identified NO earring items that would fit this requirement. If you have a question about an item, send a note to [a1]Phil_Mangum for an official position BEFORE your game day.

    It is also very important to note that, just because an item is "of religious significance" or is a medical alert item, does NOT guarantee that the player may wear the item. If, in the sole opinion of the referee, the referee deems that the item is unsafe or cannot be made safe, to the satisfaction of the referee, by taping or padding, or if the item would give the player an advantage, the referee may STILL deny the player permission to play with the item.

Shoes
FIFA law requires that players wear "suitable footwear". WSYSA specifies that these must be "legal soccer shoes", but does not further define them. LWYSA has no specific rules governing shoes. Therefore, there is no rule for LWYSA league play that specifically forbids the wearing of shoes with metal cleats or with a toe cleat. HOWEVER, these shoes may not be worn on any of the fields with artificial surfaces (the owners of the fields do not permit it) and neighboring associations will not let them be worn on any of their field. Therefore, parents should be informed that it would be wise to avoid the purchase of shoes with metal cleats or toe cleats because there are many leagues and tournaments which have rules that forbid their use.

So what is the referee inspecting? The referee cannot permit metal cleats where the rules or field owners forbid them, but the referee is the final authority at the field as to whether the shoe constitutes a legal soccer shoe. Cleats must not have any sharp edges. If a toe cleat is present, it must not be of a material that can injure other players and must not be so large that they can easily injure an opponent.
Hair Ornamentation
Items used to keep the hair in place should be made of soft materials. When rubber bands are used, they should NOT have small round plastic balls. Any clip used should be of a flat construction such that, if a ball were to hit the clip at high speed, there would be no risk of injury. Butterfly clips are not permitted.
Casts, Orthopedic, and Prosthetic Devices
A player may participate while wearing any orthopedic or prosthetic device, provided the referee at the match and in their sole opinion, has determined that the device does not pose a risk to the wearer or other players on the field.

Casts: Prior to 2004, casts were forbidden in all WSYSA competitions. In 2004, WSYSA modified the rule to make it consistent with FIFA Laws of the Game by allowing the referee to make the final decision. However, under WSYSA rules, local associations may modify rules if they choose, provided that rules regarding safety are "more restrictive" than the WSYSA rule. Leagues in which LWYSA participate have done so as indicated below. If it indicates a player may not play while wearing a cast, then the referee has no ability to permit the player to play.

  • LWYSA Recreational (U12 and younger): Per WSYSA rules.
  • District 2 Recreational (U13 and older in the District 2 league): Per WSYSA rules
  • WSYL ("premiere" leagues): Per WSYSA rules
  • LWYSA Tournaments (Labor Day Jamboree, Year End Tournament): Per WSYSA rules.
  • State Managed Tournaments (President's Cup, Commissioners Cup, Snickers Cup): Per WSYSA rules
Referee Discretion on Equipment
The referee at the match is the final decision-maker as to what may constitute "unsafe" equipment. It is entirely possible that a referee one week may permit a player to participate, yet the referee the following week may deem a device "unsafe".

In addition, a referee may permit a player to start playing but during the match determine that a device has become unsafe or that the player is using the device in an unsafe manner that was not anticipated at the start of the match. If this happens, the referee may ask the player to leave the field and either correct the problem with the equipment or, if the problem cannot be corrected, they may not allow the player to return to play.

We understand that this may create some inconsistencies. However, we also remind parents and coaches that this inconsistency was previously dealt with under WSYSA rules by simply forbidding these players to participate in all cases. Under current rules, in some leagues, they may be permitted to play in some cases.