Monday, January 24, 2011

To bead, or not to bead, that was the question

Take a look at the video clip below, with specific emphasis on the GK (in yellow).

See anything?
How about his hair?

Would you as a referee allow a player to play with those beads in their hair?

How about this?

... and this?

Should these be allowed as well?

My answer for these players, at these levels, is yes. My answer is also yes for players at any level with a bona fide religious belief that requires a head covering or medical condition that requires a bracelet for such.

Should a referee allow a player to have beads in their hair, or for that matter anything ornamental at any other level?

My answer is no, and it is backed up by the LOTG and Ask A Referee here.

So why allow professional and international players to do so?

Keep in mind that at these levels the LOTG will flex as much as the players want to play, and the referee allows. This is after all for the entertainment value of the game itself for those who are watching. As I have said many times here, it is a business, and one that the referees are a part of protecting. Asking Zenga to remove his hat, or Sutter to remove his head covering would put the referee in a bad spot as it would intrude on the "branding" that player is engaging in. Also it would no doubt bring about a poor reaction for the player themselves.

To remedy this in MLS there were specific memos that came from the staff to note that such accoutrements were allowed and the referee will allow them during play. As neither of these were outwardly dangerous it made some sense.

In all cases, a referee must draw the line when an article can put another player into peril. I don't believe that FIFA, MLS, or anyone else would have issues with that. The trick of course is what is "dangerous" varies at different levels. For those upper levels, there has to be real danger as just adornments need not be removed. At any lower levels however, it should all come off.

I agree, its not fair ... and is one of the many ways that the professional and international game sets a very bad example for younger players and referees.

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