Soccer referees have a lot of personal responsibilities and rules to remember during games, including making sure to keep themselves and the players safe. Many wonder and ask, is it okay for soccer referees to wear jewelry at all? After doing extensive research, here are the answers to these burning questions!
To follow standard soccer game rules, make sure to remove all types of body jewelry, including bracelets, rings, bands, necklaces, earrings, and body piercings. Most professional competitions will require this body adornment removal anyway, and it encourages safety for all people on the field.
Why are there often such strict rules in soccer when it comes to wearing personal jewelry of all sorts? What is the best way to dress and prepare for a standard soccer game? Let’s go over what to think about when preparing for and playing professional games.
What Counts as Jewelry
Sometimes, jewelry is defined in sports games as any decorative piece of adornment put on the body to enhance one’s beauty or to promote or plug some product, cause, or business. There is an enforced ‘no jewelry’ rule for professional soccer league games. (Reference)
The safety of all players is prioritized before, during, and after games, so approved and safe equipment and accessories are required. Some players, depending on the place and game, will be required to remove even simple ‘jewelry,’ including string bracelets on the wrist.
It may seem like splitting hairs or overkill, but any form of, or loosely defined jewelry needs to be removed since no matter what it is, it could prove dangerous during the actual game. No matter the material, a soccer player’s fingers, hair, or even clothing could be caught and then seriously injured because of it.
Because of all of this, make sure to remove any extra add-ons just to be safe, including accessories like ‘team spirit’ strings, hair beads, watches, rings, jewelry on the upper or lower arms, earrings of any kind, tongue studs, nose rings, visible body piercings, and any type of bands, including leather, rubber, plastic, or other materials.
It’s true, a sports watch may be able to fly under the rule radar, but sometimes it’s best not to risk it just in case! In fact, one of the only allowed body adornments during a game is a medical alert jewelry piece or certain religious items deemed to not be dangerous.
This is because in case of providing emergency medical help in case of injuries, a medical alert piece of jewelry could be instrumental and needed for safety.
Also, some religious paraphernalia is required by the religion to be worn at all times, so that may warrant an exception, as long as the player isn’t gaining an unfair advantage from it. The leaders should approve any exception jewelry pieces for the soccer match or competition.
Long story short, no jewelry or body adornments of any kind during soccer!
Advice from Real Soccer Referees
One soccer referee has great pieces of advice for getting around most jewelry rules. They advised wearing a Fitbit sports watch during games since this is always a helpful tool for keeping track of time, using a timer or stopwatch, or even recording personal heart rate. Any kind of sports watch can usually easily hide or be slipped under sports shirt sleeves and sweatbands. (Reference)
The Dos and Don’ts of Dressing for Soccer
After covering the things not allowed in a game, let’s look at what referees can wear! Referees need to be wearing the official US Soccer referee uniforms in most matches and competitions. Some uniforms may aesthetically vary in colors or looks depending on the place, but they always add authority to the ref. Sometimes the uniform has to be adjusted when needed, like during extremely adverse weather conditions or storms. (Reference)
Some required items may include an official long sleeve or short sleeve referee shirt, and a referee badge. The badge is often required to be up to date on certification to prove a ref has proper training and experience. Then, there are the referee shorts, sometimes compression or ‘biker’ shorts, worn under and no shorter than the outer referee shorts.
There are even official referee socks that can be paired with the outfit, and referees are able to double up with socks under their professional outer socks. Then there are the referee shoes, which can be running shoes, soccer shoes, turf shoes, or any other closed-toe shoes that are required to be clean, be in safe and in working condition.
Finally, referees are also expected to wear wristwatches with digital timer capabilities or a stopwatch, a whistle, a flipping coin for the beginning of matches, yellow and red cards, a scorepad or paper and writing instrument, and two assistant referee flags.
It should be known that stopwatches are not allowed to work around the neck, and cell phones are not an appropriate means by which to keep time during the game, hence the need for a wristwatch or stopwatch.
Referees may also wear inclement weather garments in the case of overly cold, rainy, windy, hot, sunny, or stormy days. Compression shirts, undershirts, sweatshirts, wind or rain shirts, and similar wear can be worn underneath the ref shirt too. Gloves, hats, ear warmers, and bug repellant are miscellaneous items that can also be added to a referee’s standard outfit when needed or desired!
Online and Video Guidelines
There are luckily many sources and authorities to consult further when in doubt about the appropriate things to wear while playing a game of soccer. Even using offshoot websites, like this one, and Reddit personal accounts.
The below video helps to contextualize and bring insights and different knowledge into the debate and to the forefront of the mind. As the speaker says below, it can be a better bet to just take off the jewelry and play it safe instead of accidentally injuring oneself or fellow players. As the old saying goes, better safe than sorry!