The 4th Law of Soccer deals with equipment. I will spare you the “naughty” jokes from the discussion of rules related to “balls” earlier, but I will mention that the 4th Law is more important than it sounds. In fact, it sets out some interesting rules many folks have never heard anything about. How about an example? Here comes another Pop Quiz question:
Which of the following soccer players would not be allowed to play in an “official” FIFA match due to an equipment violation:
A. A forward wearing shin guards, stockings, and a Livestrong bracelet.
B. A midfielder sporting shin guards – but no socks – and cleats.
C. A goalkeeper whose attire features the same color as the assistant referees shirt.
D. All of the Above.
It’s (D), of course. The answer ladies and gentlemen is always (D). Like in the NFL, to play in an official FIFA match, a player must wear a very specific uniform. Shoes and shin guards are mandatory, as is a jersey (with sleeves, which you think would be understood, but some African teams have tried to make this law into the Right to Bare Arms).
These rules are not so bad. In fact, I like that players cannot wear any jewelry. There is nothing worse in sports than athletes who are more concerned with their bling than they are with “doing their thing”, which is performing feats of skill. Whether it is Serena’s earrings or Sheffield’s diamond-encrusted cross, I abhor gaudy jewelry on athletes.
As to the clear absence of “freedom of speech” these rules certainly create, I commiserate with those players like Kaka who would like to pass on positive messages on t-shirts under their jerseys, but I also know selfish, money-hungry players would sell jersey space if they could, so the ban on any messages is at least content-neutral and fair to all.