If you’re new to the professional soccer world, you may have noticed that soccer referees have some specific and odd rules they need to follow to be considered professional and to be able to move up in their careers. When it comes to tattoos, it’s a bit more in the gray area, but we’re here to answer all your questions to help clear your head.
There are no strict rules regarding whether or not a soccer referee can have tattoos. They should, however, be covered if the referee wants to move up in their career to give what’s deemed a professional appearance. In lower leagues, tattoos can be visible so long as they are not offensive.
Whether or not you should or should not have visible tattoos depends on where you referee or for which team you referee, so we’re here to help you make the best judgment for your circumstances. Continue reading to have all your questions answered about refereeing for soccer with tattoos.
If you plan to get tattoos as a referee
If you’re a referee and you want to get tattoos, we would recommend either getting a tattoo in a place that can be covered, or only getting a tattoo that won’t be considered offensive by anyone on your team or an audience member.
If you referee with hopes of making it your career, and you want to move up to higher leagues, you may want to refrain from getting a tattoo at all, or only get one that is in a spot that can be covered by your regular referee uniform.
This can be on your shoulder, on your back, your chest, your ankle, or your upper thigh.
The Football Association in Europe has said that non-league referees should hide their tattoos if they’re hoping to progress up to higher leagues like the English Football League.
This is simply to help keep up the image of soccer/football leagues or clubs, as referees are supposed to maintain a professional appearance.
While the world has evolved around what is considered professional or not, there are still many people who do not consider tattoos professional, especially in the job market, which includes the soccer world.
If you already have tattoos and want to referee
If you already have tattoos, you can still be a referee for non-league or lower-league teams, or, depending on where the tattoos are located, for professional or competitive leagues.
The most pushback you’ll receive is from audience members (or parents of players on your team if you referee for youth or high school teams) passing judgment about your tattoos and deemed unprofessionalism.
But, if you want to move up in the referee career and work for bigger, more professional leagues, you may have a harder time moving up if you have visible tattoos.
The Football Association recommends that referees who want to progress up to the English Football League should find a way to cover their tattoos that will still meet dress code standards.
For example, if the referee has a sleeve of tattoos down one or both arms, then they should practice wearing long sleeve jerseys to games and practices.
This way, they can maintain a more professional appearance and will more likely be considered for referee positions in higher leagues.
If you have tattoos that are in harder-to-cover places, such as on your face, you can use high-coverage makeup products to temporarily hide the tattoo, or you can simply brave the potential judgment you may receive from others while you referee, including those who might consider you for higher leagues.
Keep in mind that just because you have tattoos, that doesn’t mean you can’t move up as a referee, it just depends on who is considering you for those higher positions.
At the most, you’ll probably just face a bit of extra pushback, or you may have to prove yourself a little more than other referees who are barren of tattoos.
Related Post: Can Soccer Referees Wear Sunglasses?
Consider where you live and what kind of team you referee
In the 2020s, tattoos have grown significantly in popularity and receive much less judgment than they have in previous decades, and this will only continue to improve.
Regardless, there are still some people who stereotype, place judgments or make assumptions about people who have tattoos, and many employers see visible tattoos as unprofessional.
You might find that people are less prone to judge if you live or referee for a team somewhere that is more liberal or open-minded to different forms of expression.
Conservative communities can be more prone to judge the professionalism of someone who has tattoos, piercings, or colorful hair dye.
However, you may get more pushback from a wider population of people if your tattoo could be considered offensive to a particular group of people.
Some smaller tattoos that are less noticeable are also going to get less pushback from others, but this could also depend on where you live.
For example, one referee on Reddit have said they have a tattooed wedding band on their ring finger and they received scrutiny from locals while refereeing because of it.
Taking both the type of tattoo you have and where you live into consideration will help you determine whether you should leave your tattoo visible or cover it up if you referee for smaller leagues.
If you’re wanting to move up in the leagues, you’ll need to either cover up your tattoos in some way that doesn’t obstruct your uniform, or you’ll probably have to do a bit more to prove yourself as a qualified referee if you have tattoos that are visible.
You should keep in mind that people in the United States have a different opinion on tattoos than do people out of the states.
For example, in Europe, refereeing for soccer (“football”) while you have tattoos can be a bit more difficult, especially in the higher leagues. People in Europe and other countries find tattoos to be a bigger deal than in the states.
Acceptable vs. not acceptable tattoos
If your tattoos are located on a visible part of your skin while refereeing, such as on your calves, neck, or face, you may want to consider whether or not they will be considered acceptable.
If they are located on your arms, this may also help you determine whether you should cover them up with a long sleeve shirt or not.
The first thing to consider is whether or not your tattoo is noticeable or offensive. Noticeable tattoos, such as large ones or ones with bright colors, are more likely to cause issues, even if you referee for a lower league, and tattoos that may be considered offensive should be covered while refereeing.
But, so long as you prove yourself to be a good referee to those who might have passed judgment, whether they be in the audience or part of the team, then you won’t have to worry about it so much, except as it could lessen your chances of moving up as a referee.
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Questions and answers
Can soccer referees have beards?
Beards are acceptable for soccer referees of lower leagues, but they should be trimmed for a more professional look. In many higher leagues in the soccer pyramid, such as the English Football League, referees should be clean-shaven, as beards are generally not acceptable.
Can soccer referees wear hats?
Yes, soccer referees can wear hats! If you have a tattoo on your forehead, at the top of your head, or above your ears, you can try wearing a hat to cover the tattoo or obstruct the view of it. Hats must be made of soft and safe materials, and all baseball hats must be worn with the brim facing forward.
Can soccer referees wear sunglasses?
Soccer referees cannot wear sunglasses unless they are prescribed by an eye doctor at any time while officiating games. Prescription glasses that have colored or tinted lenses are acceptable so long as they are impact-resistant and worn with a secure head strap.
Can soccer referees wear jewelry?
Referees cannot wear any form of jewelry while officiating games, except for watches for the purpose of timing during the game. This includes piercings, which must be removed before each game.