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Fashion laws in football explained

Wednesday 8th February 2017
Football has some strange fashion laws which seemingly have nothing to do with actually playing the game. Whilst these rules are largely adhered to in the Premier League, lower league clubs and players are regularly in trouble with officials for not abiding by the rules. Here are three fashion rules you argue about every Saturday afternoon explained...

Sock Tape

No kit bag is complete without a roll of tape. If you are a footballer, then sock tape is probably your best friend. Everyone knows that socks simply do not stay on your feet without at least half a roll of tape keeping them up. Everyone, that is, except referees. The rules state that if the colour of the tape does not match the main colour of the socks, then it may not be worn. Whilst this may cause annoyance on Sunday league pitches throughout the country, there is a very simple reason behind it.

In the mid-2000's when sock tape first became a thing, players such as Ronaldo and Lampard would put so much tape around their ankles that the colour of the sock appeared to completely change. This made intricate decisions such as deciding which player the ball came off last extremely difficult, especially if the tape was the same colour as the opposition socks, so the matching colour rule was introduced.

But what does this mean for teams who wear stripes or hoops? Well, the official law states that ‘the tape must be the same colour as the main kit colour. In striped or hooped cases, one colour must be chosen and all players must wear the same colour'.

Under Garments

Compression shorts and shirts are also incredibly popular, especially in the winter months; however, these also have to be the same colour as your kit. The reason behind this logic is very similar to the sock tape ruling; however, it is more aimed at helping assistant referees. If undershorts are the same colour as the opponent's shorts it can make deciding marginal offside's very difficult as linesmen often look for colour as an indicator as to who was in an offside position.

The striped colour rule also applies here but interestingly there are no rules dictating the colour has to stay the same for the whole season. This means that Sunderland, for example, could play in white undershirts one week and red undershirts the next. As long as every player wears the same colour it is no issue.

Goalkeeper shirts

Everyone knows that goalkeepers and outfield players have to wear different colour kits, but did you know that both goalkeepers must also wear different colour tops? The reasoning behind this law is fairly simple, if not rather improbable. Goalkeepers have to wear different colours so the referee can distinguish them in case one of them comes up for a corner. The thought process is that if both goalkeepers wear green for example, then the attacking goalkeeper could handle the ball into the goal and it be mistaken for the defending goalkeeper. Sensible rulemaking yes, but how often do goalkeepers come up for last minute corners!?

So there you have it, if you want to keep your socks up, keep warm or score a goal as a goalkeeper you now know what you need to do in order to avoid arguments with referees.
Stephen Parkinson
23 year old Football fan, player and referee. Specialising in the Bundesliga since having lived in Leipzig for 2 years.

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