Player wearing glasses

Discussion in 'Referee' started by FIFARay007, May 1, 2006.

  1. FIFARay007

    FIFARay007 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2004
    Location:
    CT
    Club:
    Manchester United FC
    Country:
    United States
    Ok, so I just became a ref this year, and this past weekend I reffed (AR) for the first time. These were all travel games U11-U13 boys and girls. In the third game I did, there was a player that was wearing glasses, and the ref (an experienced ref I may add) did not allow her to play. I completely agreed with the decision as we're supposed to ensure the safety of the players. Unfortunately the coach didn't like the decision and complained that no other ref ever said there would be a problem. Of course I edited that last sentence a little.

    Anyway, I spoke with the ref after the game and he said how he's contacted the powers that be (in CT) to try and make a rule stating this, so it's not left up to the ref's descretion. Unfortunately they have either not listened or are just twiddling their thumbs about it, cuz nothing has happened.

    Now obviously I was shocked for a few reasons:
    1. The fact that this player has never been told that she cannot play because of her glasses, means a LOT of referees before have allowed her to play.
    2. The parents of the girl must think she's the luckiest girl in the world and could never get a ball to the head.
    3. CT is leaving this decision to referees, some who are younger and may not have the "jacobs" to stand up to a coach and not allow her to play.

    So I wanted to weigh in with you guys and see what course of action you think is best. I think it should be passed as a law strictly because it isn't safe. Yes I realize that Law 4 states that a player cannot wear anything that is dangerous to themselevs or other players, but apparently glasses are a grey area, considering some refs allow it.

    I was considering trying to do some legwork and see if I can make CT come to a decision. My plan would be to get a number of refs to sign a petition (via email or soemthing) saying that if a player is wearing regular glasses, then they will not allow them to play. Obviously this leaves out goggles and sport glasses. I figure if CT sees that enough refs will not allow these girls to play, that it will make sense for them to pass a law stating what I think should be obvious.


  2. Wreave

    Wreave New Member

    Joined:
    May 4, 2005
    Location:
    Colorado Springs, CO
    There's no good reason not to allow glasses. I allow them, and the coach is right on this one, the vast majority of referees would.

    Also, my son plays, and he wears regular glasses. He plays rec soccer, and having to get him sports goggles every year in addition to regular glasses would more than double his cost to play the game. In probably 100 soccer games, he has had one ref tell him that he couldn't play. We were able to get that ref to ask a more senior ref on an adjacent field, and resolved the issue.

    AYSO, with 650,000 youth soccer players, says:

    S P E C T A C L E S

    Players who require prescription glasses are to be allowed to wear them during practices and games. It is recommended that retaining straps be worn. Rubber bands may also be used for this purpose. Prescription goggles, such as the type used by racquetball players, are also permitted subject to the approval of the referee prior to the start of the match. Spectacle guards made of plastic or other hard material are not permitted.
  3. IASocFan

    IASocFan Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2000
    Location:
    IOWA
    Club:
    Des Moines Menace
    Country:
    United States
    Talk about safety hazard. Having some kid (like me) play without glasses could definitely be hazardous to their health. Without glasses the ball looks like a blur (if I can see it at all ;)), until it's a few feet away! I tried contacts for a while, but always had problems with them and gave them up 15-20 years ago. I've ruined a bushel basket full of stems, but it's usually time to get a new pair anyway. :eek: I've never heard of a referee not allowing glasses!
  4. Law5

    Law5 Member+

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2005
    Location:
    Beaverton OR
    Under the Laws of the Game, the decision about whether something is dangerous is up to the referee of the game that day. Accordingly, "the state" can't make a one size fits all decision about this sort of thing. It actually demands good judgment by a referee. IMHO, glasses are not dangerous. When I played, I did break my frames one time and wore "rec specs" after that. Now I wear contacts when refereeing. (No problems with rain that way!) Still, glasses are not dangerous. But it is the referee's judgment.:eek:


  5. Claymore

    Claymore Member

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2000
    Location:
    Montgomery Vlg, MD
    Club:
    DC United
    Country:
    United States
    Personally, I do consider glasses (other than sports specs) dangerous, both to the player and his opponents.

    Most leagues won't mandate sports specs because it places a financial burden on the parents and players.
  6. Ref Flunkie

    Ref Flunkie Member

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2003
    Location:
    Livonia, MI
    Never really thought about it, but now adays, "glasses" are not made of glass, but polycarbonate, which really doesn't shatter. Because of that, glasses really are no worse then "sports goggles" and the like.
  7. FIFARay007

    FIFARay007 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2004
    Location:
    CT
    Club:
    Manchester United FC
    Country:
    United States
    So I guess it's more the frame that you need to worry about? Assuming the frame is plastic or something like that, then it's ok?

    Also, let's say the ref allows it and the player subsequently gets a ball to the face. The glasses break and the broken frames cut the player. Can the referee be held liable in any way?
  8. refmike

    refmike New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2003
    Location:
    Cal North
    Can we move past the "what if" and discuss any real instance anyone knows of.

    I was hit directly in the face by a ball last weekend. It knocked my metal rim glasses (with springs on the sides) off my face and left a small cut on the bridge of my nose. I wiped it off and put on a bandage, then continued the game. No real damage.

    Several years ago I was AR to a ref who caught a glancing ball from the side of the head. As his glasses were pushed off, the earpiece rubbed across his eye and caused it to tear up. He held on till half time and then said he could not see well enough to continue. Luckily it was a tournament so we got a new third and continued the game.

    Any other real stories? Especially ones where glasses proved to be unsafe?
  9. Dave B.

    Dave B. New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2005
    I'm sure any of us, at least over a certain age, remember seeing or hearing of a serious injury caused or worsened by glasses. However, it seems to me the days of glass lenses, brittle plastic and cheap metal frames have passed. Most, at least many, of today's glasses have improved materials and are much safer.

    With today's improved designs I'm not sure how a referee can detect unsafe glasses. (Barring fashion frames with spikes or something.) E.g. a teammate of my daughter has specially ordered "sports glasses" which look like any other wire frame glasses to me. (And this kid is a real bulldog, so I've seen those glasses take and survive incredible punishment.) Another example, I have prescription Bolle' sunglasses which provide better protection that the "sports goggles" I used to have. They fit so close to my face they are usually better than no glasses and much better than the clunky goggles. (Yes, I've tested them, I need to improve my heading technique. :)
  10. nsa

    nsa Member+

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 1999
    Location:
    Notboston, MA
    Club:
    New England Revolution
    Country:
    United States
    Why would you keep a kid from playing with glasses? Some ref is on a power trip.

    As a player, I broke so many frames as a kid that I played without my glasses as an adult and finally got a pair of sports goggles. (The good news was that I could see the ball. The bad news was that I still couldn't play it. :) )

    As a ref I wear my glasses. I got hit with the ball once in the side of my head and had 4 stitches where the lens sliced open my nose. A pair of needle-nose pliers had the glasses looking almost new and the scar on my nose wasn't noticeable.

    The laws of the game do not prohibit eyeware. We have to enforce the safety aspect. With the new polycarbonate lenses there is no chance of the lens shattering. As long as the frames are safe (not spiked or some such) and secured to the head with a strap I do not foresee denying someone the use of their glasses.

    (Funny, I got an e-mail tonight from a team manager in the local adult league asking about glasses. I told him the decision would be made by the referee at the field.)
  11. FIFARay007

    FIFARay007 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2004
    Location:
    CT
    Club:
    Manchester United FC
    Country:
    United States
    But what if this happened to a kid? If a kid ends up with a gash in their head, could the ref be held liable for any reason? I've heard stories from the assessor who held the training class that refs have been sued in the past.

    The point is that I've just begun down this road and this is all still kinda new to me. I just don't want to make any mistakes that I can avoid now.
  12. Chas (Psyatika)

    Chas (Psyatika) Member

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2005
    Location:
    USA
    Club:
    Crystal Palace FC
    I wear my glasses when i ref matches, and i let players wear glasses. There's no way you can tell the difference between "regular" and "sports" glasses that are designed to look like regular glasses, and usually even "regular" glasses are so durable that they won't shatter or break apart on impact. I own sports goggles, but they're too clunky and i don't bother with them since i don't play anymore.

    I always ask players during the inspection if they plan on wearing their glasses during the game, and then i ask them if they think it's a good idea. I know it's supposed to be my decision, but when the players takes part in the decision making process, i think they'd be a little less likely to blame the referee if something happens.

    I had one instance as a player where i had glasses on under sports goggles (the type where the glasses can fit under them, only my glasses were slightly too wide for them so it was a tight fit). I was hit in the face by the ball, and felt a bit of pain, but there was no blood. I didn't take off the goggles because the glasses were still in place, and i was afraid i had broken them and wanted to stay in the game. Turned out my cheap frames were stronger than i thought and were still intact. I'm sure someone who doesn't get their glasses from the bottom of the barrel prescription plan has even stronger glasses than i do.

    Anyway, since we're in doubt, let's ask Jim:

    One of the referee's duties is to be certain that the equipment of all players is safe and will not endanger either the player nor any other players. If, in the opinion of the referee, the glasses are safe for the wearer and all other players, then the player may wear them. The referee has neither duty nor power to act as a fashion coordinator or an optician.

    Referees should all be aware of USSF Memorandum 2001, which contains the following citation from FIFA Circular 750 and USSF advice to referees on the wearing of eyeglasses:

    QUOTE
    Players Wearing Spectacles

    Sympathy was expressed for players, especially young players, who need to wear spectacles. It was accepted that new technology had made sports spectacles much safer, both for the player himself and for other players.

    While the referee has the final decision on the safety of players' equipment, the Board expects that they will take full account of modern technology and the improved safety features of spectacle design when making their decision.

    USSF Advice to Referees: Referees must not interpret the above statement to mean either that "sports glasses" must automatically be considered safe or that glasses which are not manufactured to be worn during sports are automatically to be considered unsafe. The referee must make the final decision: the Board has simply recognized that new technology has made safer the wearing of glasses during play.
    END OF QUOTE
  13. bluedevils

    bluedevils Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2002
    Location:
    USA
    Not to pick on Chas, but his post had a nice summary. I have long wondered why referees seem to allow, in almost all cases, players to participate while wearing glasses -- either traditional spectacles or the sports goggles. It seems to me that we should be erring on the side of caution, especially when dealing with youth players.

    I don't think I have ever prevented a player from participating because he/she was wearing glasses, but I have always felt it is an inherent safety issue. Hearing several examples of minor injury involving players and refs using glasses has reinforced this belief.

    If there's no way to tell if the glasses are safe or not, then why are we assuming they must be safe instead of assuming they might be unsafe? Or, if we are assuming they might be unsafe, why are we still allowing players to wear them?
  14. macheath

    macheath New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2005
    Location:
    DC
    as a practical matter, I gather from reading this board that I'm not the only one who refs while wearing glasses. It could be a little hard to tell a player they can't wear glasses, while I'm wearing mine...
  15. bluedevils

    bluedevils Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2002
    Location:
    USA
    Perhaps. But for my money, this is easily defensible. You tell the player that you are willing to take this risk for yourself, but you cannot put the player himself, or other players, at risk by allowing the player to wear glasses. I guess you could argue that the ref's shattered glasses could cause injury to some of the players, but that seems extremely unlikely and nearly impossible and I would be willing to live with that risk in my match. Player injury due to glasses worn by a player seems much more likely.

    I do not wear glasses, BTW.
  16. Stan

    Stan New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2002
    Location:
    PA
    I wear glasses when I ref. I usually just say something to the kid about being sympathetic with their need to wear glasses, that I am letting them play with them, but admonish them that if I see them playing in a manner in which their glasses could hurt others, I could change my mind.
  17. nsa

    nsa Member+

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 1999
    Location:
    Notboston, MA
    Club:
    New England Revolution
    Country:
    United States
    In 40 years of playing and 20 years of ref'ing, that one incident is the only injury due to eyeware and it happened because I got blind-sided by a ball kicked by a U19 player while I was trying to be a nice guy and help fix the net.
    Given the choice between not wearing my glasses or not fixing the net, the net will not be fixed by me. :)

    That's the lesson to learn from my mistake. Have the coach fix his own damn net. ;)
  18. nsa

    nsa Member+

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 1999
    Location:
    Notboston, MA
    Club:
    New England Revolution
    Country:
    United States
    I remind them that if the glasses can't stay on their head then they will leave the field, with or without the player, their choice. ;)
  19. PVancouver

    PVancouver Member

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 1999
    You know, if no one needed glasses to see better but people wanted to wear them only because they were fashionable, they would be regularly banned as a form of jewelry. For example, it doesn't make much sense to allow players to wear non-safety, non-prescription sunglasses.

    However, I am probably safer wearing my rec specs than playing without, as they protect me from being inadvertantly poked in the eye. It seems like we see at least one player get poked in the eye/face in MLS every week. Some NBA basketball players regularly play with protective eyewear for this reason.

    To compare soccer to another sport, in USA Volleyball "it is forbidden to wear objects which may cause injury, or give an artificial advantage to the player", although "players may wear glasses or lenses at their own risk." Interestingly, no restrictions to eyewear are given. All jewelry is prohibited except for medical or religious "medallions"; although a flat band or ring on the finger is specifically permitted for adult play.

    Most sports, including USA Volleyball, prohibit the wearing of any headgear except headbands. Yet how dangerous is a baseball cap to a volleyball or soccer player? If a rec-league player wants to wear a baseball cap, presumably with the knowledge that they are unlikely to attempt to win head balls, as a baseball cap would interfere with this sort of behavior, should the cap be denied for safety reasons? Why should goalkeepers be allowed to wear caps then? The reason headgear is typically banned is because it's perceived benefits don't outweigh even the slightest possibility of added risk. I suppose we can be should consider ourselves fortunate that FIFA does not impose a blanket ban on headgear.

    Regardless of what the LOTG say, insurance companies are able to influence the decisions of league referees. For example, if the insurance company covering the league specifically excluded glasses wearers from their coverage, the league would probably advise their referees not to allow glasses wearers to play. If we were stuck with 1950's glasses technology it might be a more common occurrence today. (But then, we wouldn't have contacts, either.)

    I wear rec glasses when I play soccer, and because my glasses protrude a bit from my head, there is the possibility that I might damage another player's eye if we happen to aggressively go for the ball at the same time and we are fearlessly reckless with our play. But I am certainly much more likely to deliver dangerous (but accidental) blow with my hand, elbow, knee, or foot than I am with my rec specs.

    I know the sport isn't risk free, that is why I sign the liability waiver at the beginning of every year.
  20. saabrian

    saabrian Member

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2002
    Location:
    Upstate NY
    Club:
    AS Roma
    Country:
    United States
    I don't think it would be unreasonable to have kids with glasses wear a strap to ensure they stay on the face.

    I don't think it's reasonable to ban them from playing at all. I used to play with glasses (both soccer and basketball) before I got contacts and the worst I got was a little cut on the nose. Throw a kid out there without his glasses and terrible vision, that's far more dangerous.

    I used to play with glasses and I've coached kids who play with glasses and I've never seen them have anything worse than their glasses fall off. And I've NEVER seen any other player affected.

    Higher level players really should get contacts or sports goggles but banning them is excessive and unnecessary.
  21. macheath

    macheath New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2005
    Location:
    DC
    I agree with this. In the bad old days, I played goalkeeper with my specs on, and (perhaps luckily) never had a problem (at least with my glasses...)
  22. EJDad

    EJDad New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2004
  23. Sean_94

    Sean_94 Member

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2003
    I went without glasses when I practiced with my college team (phys. ed credit) because I could not afford rec specs, and I couldn't wear contacts. I often ran around like a chicken with my head cut off.
    I'm not saying I would have made the team or anything, but I could have played a lot better with some kind of eyewear.
    We wore gray practice shirts. When we held scrimmages, and coach picked the blue pinneys for one team, I absolutely could not tell who was on my team or not. Sweat made the gray look even darker.
    I'd say glasses are safer than no glasses.
  24. bluedevils

    bluedevils Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2002
    Location:
    USA
    It seems strange to hear people talking as if the 2 choices are to let a player play with glasses, or that player playing with no glasses at all. There IS a 3rd choice, and granted it is one that most folks here do not consider a valid one: the player does not play.

    It is not up to the referee to tell a kid who wears glasses that he can or cannot play WITHOUT glasses. That would be a decision up to the player. The ref should not force the player to play without the glasses, just as he should not prevent the player from playing without glasses.
  25. njref

    njref Member

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2003
    Location:
    New Jersey
    The very small danger from glasses is outweighed by their utility, the fact that they protect you from a poke in the eye and the benefit from referee consistency (almost all refs believe glasses are OK).

    We have bigger issues to contend with without getting into unnecessary conflict with players and coaches over glasses. Just let the players play.

Share This Page