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Question Number: 31793

Law 4 - The Players Equipment 9/17/2017

RE: Adult

Mashooq of suva, Fiji asks...

can a keeper be wearing a jersey without a number.
what if the ref has given him a yellow card in the match. what can be done in this situation aftr the match

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Mashooq
Numbers on players shirts is a competition rule and it is not part of the Laws of the Game. The competition rule is there to help referees with identification. In the absence of numbers Player identification is done by asking the players name when required. There are times when a numbered jersey may not be readily available such as in case of a player needing to change because of blood on his shirt. Also a goalkeeper may have to change his shirt because of a colour clash and the changed shirt may have no number.
It does not make much difference particularly when the referee knows the number of the player with no number particularly goalkeepers. The referee reports the number and name of the player cautioned from his team sheet which is also a competition rule.. Some times referees can be picky and require a numbered shirt as per the competition rules at all times. I remember in an Ireland game on a blood shirt change a coach had to drawn a number 5 on a numberless shirt because the team did not have a replacement 5. After the makeshift number was added the player was allowed to return. At lower levels of the game common sense should be used with the player allowed to play with whatever team jersey is available even if it has a number or no number. Some competition rules allow for a unique numbered shirt to be used as a blood jersey. So it could say be number 19 as 1 to 18 are allocated. If say 5 got blood on his shirt he puts on the 18 blood replacement shirt. The referee then know that 18 is in fact player 5. No number would work just as well!!

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Mashooq
the idea of jersey numbers is generally one that the ROCs created for quick id! Usually id cards and names on the roster are the primary methods of identification. Jerseys can be switched out, changed ,bloodied, forgotten and borrowed , numbers worn or unstitched etc... The principle reason for a keeper jersey is to id him DIFFERENTLY then the players via colour not number. A simple X or a stripe of tape if it is a requirement but no reason to caution at all. Nor an excuse to not allow them to play!

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Mashooq,
Neither the goalkeeper nor any other player is required by the Laws of the Game to have a number on their shirt. Sometimes (but not always) the competition rules have provisions about shirt numbering but even here, such rules sometimes only talk about the format of the numbers rather than making them compulsory. In fact, as alluded to by my colleagues, players sometimes have to change their shirts due to blood injuries and this can require multiple replacement jerseys. Even at the highest levels, a team cannot be expected to have unlimited supplies of numbered shirts for each player.

When it comes to cautioning a player, the standard procedure in many cases at least, used to be to record the player's name and number (although nowadays at some higher levels where team sheets are compulsory, referees no longer go through the whole 'taking the player's name' rigmarole). So if the player doesn't have a number, you would just record the name. Assuming that this is a competition that uses team sheets with numbers, you could possibly add in the number the player should have been wearing from the team sheet later (if available).

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