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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 35610

Law 4 - The Players Equipment 7/6/2024

RE: 6 High School

Juancarlos Hartnack of West Haven, CT United States asks...

2024 high school soccer what happens when after the game has started and the referee finds the keeper's shirt has no number and what is the outcome from the referee

Answer provided by Referee Joe Manjone

Hi Juancarlos,

For two or three years after the rule change requiring the goalkeeper to have a number, keepers would often not have a number. It is best to do an unofficial check of the teams for illegal equipment including the keeper not wearing a number prior to the start of the game. If the keeper not wearing a number is noticed prior to the start of the game, a number, often tape, can be put on the keepers jersey if a jersey with a number is not available.

However, if the game has started, and the referee notices there no number on the keepers jersey, NFHS 4-4 articles 1 thru 5 are to be followed. The referee should wait until the ball is dead, and at that time caution the coach, if this was the first illegal equipment offense, and require the keeper to put on a jersey with the number identical to the one on the team roster or allow a substitute keeper with a number on the jersey to enter. Sometimes this may require a tape number to be affixed to the jersey.

If this was the second illegal equipment offense by this team, the keeper rather than the coach would be cautioned.

I hope you have a very successful fall high school season.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Juancarlos
Thanks for the question.

Jersey numbers are used for easy identification of players. The answers between FIFA and NFHS differ on this matter.
Referee Manjone has given the NFHS answer.

In FIFA games numbers are governed by the Competition Rules for that particular competition. Most if not all require that players wear a numbered shirt as listed in the team roster. Those numbers can be 1 to 11 or a squad number which a player keeps throughout the season. Substitutes are numbered 12 onwards or a squad number.

The number is used for identification purposes so that in the case of cautions / dismissals the player’s identity is known by the number on the roster. A referee will also mental notes of player numbers that have been spoken to or advised by an assistant to assist in the player’s identity.
Where there is no number a referee could simply ask the player to identify and that is all that is required.
At highest levels a player is expected to wear a shirt with a number as set out in the roster.
In the case where a jersey say gets blood on it a replacement jersey will be required. Some competition rules allow for a *blood Jersey* with a unique number listed on the roster which is used to replace the numbered jersey.
I recall in an Ireland game many seasons ago an Irish player got blood on his shirt in an international game. The team at that time did not have numbered replacement shirts so the player put on à numberless jersey. The referee would not allow the player to return until it was numbered. A member of the technical area marked out the number with a marker! Sure it was an easy identification to say 5 changed to no number so that identifies the player.

Now in respect of a goalkeeper the unique jersey clearly identifies that player anyway. I have seen problems with clash of colours etc which required goalkeepers to change shirts some with no number. That was allowed as the jersey itself identified the player. I have seen goalkeepers having to wear bibs over the shirt to prevent a clash of colour when no replacement was available.

In a perfect world teams would have two sets of perfectly numbered kits yet we know that does not happen at the lower levels of the game so we make do with whatever meets the criteria and identifies the players.
I saw a game recently where two players had the same number which was missed by the referee at the start of the game and he finished the game out and then informed the coach.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Juancarlos,
it can be an issue but it does not HAVE to be. Law 18 common sense solves this. The game itself would be unaffected if there were no referee intervention while the referee himself might get fewer appointments for not dealing with it under proscribed LOTG! The roster and ROC stating the need for a number when the true need is to ensure they are identifiable as a player and can distinguish them from each other and the players! I had an incident where the keeper had forgotten their kit and wore a white T shirt with the words MILLION Dollar Baby written on it! LOL

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