What You Can (and Can’t) Wear for Soccer


Post title over image of player wearing headband

If you’re about to head to the soccer field to play a game, you need to know what you can or can’t wear when you step out on the pitch. Over the years, I’ve seen many people try to start a game wearing a variety of different items. Now I’m going to give you the rundown of what a soccer player can and can’t wear.

The rules of soccer permit a player to wear any clothing item as long as the referee doesn’t consider it dangerous. This rule includes protective equipment. However, the regulations restrict any player from wearing jewelry as it is too dangerous.

As we go through this list, you’ll see that I’ve grouped the items into sections. First, we’ll look at the type of jewelry a player can wear. Then we’ll look at eyewear such as contacts or glasses and end the article by looking at the different types of clothing a player can or can’t wear—items such as gloves, leggings, hats, and braces.

Can You Wear a Nose Piercing in Soccer?

Many soccer players choose to wear a nose ring or stud in their day-to-day life, but when it comes to playing in a soccer game, a nose piercing has to be removed.

You can’t play soccer with a nose piercing. All items of jewelry, including nose rings, are forbidden and must be removed before a player steps onto the soccer field. 

Nose piercings are banned from soccer games because the rule-makers of soccer consider them too dangerous. Not only to the player wearing them but also to other players on the field.

The official rules of soccer are clear about this and state:

All items of jewelry (necklaces, rings, bracelets, earrings, leather bands, rubber bands, etc.) are forbidden and must be removed. Using tape to cover jewelry is not permitted.

IFAB Laws of the Game

The main risk to a player wearing a nose piercing of any kind is that it may accidentally get pulled out during a challenge.

This would not only be painful for the player that loses the piercing but would no doubt cause the referee to pause the game while the player was tended to. Having an enforced break, for this reason, is entirely avoidable if the player doesn’t wear the piercing in the first place.

Whether you are happy to take the risk of wearing a nose piercing or not, unfortunately, this is not permitted during a soccer game.

Can You Wear Earrings?

The option of wearing earrings during a soccer game falls under the same rules as nose piercings.

You can’t wear earrings for soccer. All items of jewelry, including earrings, are forbidden and must be removed before a player steps onto the soccer field.

Soccer rules restrict a player from wearing any item that is considered dangerous to either the player wearing the object or the other players on the field.

Earrings are on the list of items that a referee would consider hazardous and will prevent a player from staying on the soccer field while wearing them.

And taking action such as covering your earrings with tape doesn’t change anything.

Again the rules are clear about this.

A soccer player cannot cover jewelry during a soccer game. The rules of soccer restrict a player from using tape to cover an earring, ring, or piercing of any kind because wearing these items is considered too dangerous.

Unfortunately, the rules also prevent a player from playing even if they have covered any items of jewelry, such as their earrings.

If you want my recommendations about what to wear to a soccer game as a fan, then check out my article – What to Wear to Watch a Soccer Game.

Can You Wear a Necklace?

The next item of jewelry I want to look at is necklaces.

necklace for soccer

Many people wear necklaces every day, and there are many that hold special significance to a player. So much so that they may be uncomfortable taking it off during a game. I’ve known multiple people where this would be the case.

However, as we’ve seen already, the rules of soccer don’t allow for personal preferences in this area.

You can’t wear a necklace while playing soccer. The rules strictly forbid this, and if you try and start a game while wearing a necklace, the referee will ask you to remove it before continuing. 

If you have any piece of jewelry that is important to you, your best option is to leave it at home before traveling to a soccer game. Alternatively, keep it locked somewhere safe at the soccer ground.

Can You Wear a Ring?

Millions of people across the world are married and wear wedding bands. Millions of those people enjoy playing soccer (myself included!).

Because married people tend to wear their wedding bands at all times, I hear many of them asking if they can keep them on while playing soccer. Unfortunately, they can’t.

A player cannot wear a wedding band or any other type of ring while playing soccer. All items of jewelry, including rings and wedding bands, are forbidden and must be removed before a player steps onto the soccer field. If a player is wearing one, the referee will ask them to remove it.

This is one of the areas that I wish was different as I’d rather keep mine on than risk losing it, but I understand why it isn’t permitted and make sure I put it somewhere safe before stepping out onto the soccer field.

Can You Play Soccer With Fake Nails?

If you’re a soccer player and you’re considering getting fake nails, then you probably want to know if you can still play soccer after having them done. Or maybe you’ve already spent time and money on acrylic nails, and you want to know if you can still play soccer.

fake nails

Here’s what you need to know.

You can play soccer with fake or acrylic nails. The rules of soccer don’t directly restrict players from wearing them. However, some referees may consider them dangerous and prevent players from wearing them because the rules of soccer forbid players from using or wearing “dangerous equipment”.

Understanding if you can play soccer with fake nails is a little complicated.

On the one hand, there is nothing in the rules of soccer that directly restricts a player from having fake nails. All jewelry is forbidden, but the rules don’t mention acrylic nails at all.

However, the rules do state:

A player must not use equipment or wear anything that is dangerous.

IFAB LAWS OF THE GAME

What equipment is considered dangerous is ultimately up to the subjective opinion of the referee. And I know of more than one occasion where the referee has stopped a player competing in a game because they were wearing fake nails.

The referee considered the fake nails “dangerous equipment”.

My personal opinion is that nails aren’t inherently dangerous. It’s just as possible for a player to grow long, sharp nails as it is to wear fake nails.

If a player does use their nails in a dangerous manner during a game, then the referee should caution them in the same way they would for any player that engages in dangerous play.

If you already have fake nails and are concerned about this, my advice would be to wear gloves when you play soccer or have them removed until the soccer season is over.

Can You Wear Glasses?

The next thing to discuss is whether a player can wear glasses while playing soccer.

The short answer to this question is “yes, but…”

Let me explain what I mean.

A player can wear glasses to play soccer as long as the glasses are designated “sport glasses”. Standard, everyday glasses are not designed to withstand the demands of a soccer game and may become damaged. Sports glasses are more robust and less likely to be damaged during competitive play.

The rules of soccer specifically allow sports glasses to be worn during a soccer game, as you can see in this following extract from Law 4 of the Laws of the Game.

“Non-dangerous protective equipment, for example, headgear, facemasks, and knee and arm protectors made of soft, lightweight padded material is permitted as are goalkeepers’ caps and sports spectacles.”

IFAB LAWS OF THE GAME

As you can see, the rules refer to these glasses as “sports spectacles”.

sport glasses

The manufacturers of sports spectacles have designed them to be sturdy and robust and withstand the potential impacts they will receive during a soccer game.

The last thing anyone needs is a pair of glasses breaking during a tackle and glass flying everywhere. That would not only be dangerous for the player wearing the glasses but for anyone around them.

Only allowing players to wear sport glasses mitigates this risk.

Sports glasses are also great at sticking to a player’s face rather than feeling like they will fall off every few minutes. As someone who has worn glasses to play soccer, I can tell you, this is a huge benefit!

Can You Wear Contacts in Soccer?

Let’s now talk about wearing contacts in soccer.

This is an area where I have a lot of experience as I’ve worn contact lenses to play sports ever since I was 14 years old. And that includes soccer.

A soccer player can wear contacts during a soccer game. Contact lenses do not pose a danger to any other player. They are safer and more comfortable than wearing glasses. 

Contact lenses completely changed how I played soccer. Instead of constantly worrying about damaging my glasses (or not seeing much if I played without them!) I was able to play freely and with confidence.

Over the years, there have been many players that have worn contact lenses during games. Players such as David De Gea and even Cristiano Ronaldo have all benefited from wearing contact lenses.

The advantages of wearing contacts are that they don’t require constant adjustment, a player doesn’t have to worry about anything extra on their face, and they are far less likely to be damaged.

My one piece of advice would be to always make sure you have a spare lens or two available at the side of the field. There is always a risk that a lens will pop out during a challenge from another player, and you want to make sure you have a spare available.

Can You Wear a Hat?

There are many reasons why you may want to wear a hat during a soccer game.

  • It may be cold outside, and you want to stay warm
  • You may want to protect your eyes from the sun
  • or you may like the way it looks

Whatever the reason, let’s look at what the rules of soccer say about wearing a hat during a game.

You can wear a hat in soccer. The rules of soccer allow a player to wear a hat as long as the hat meets the criteria set out in the Laws of the Game. Protective headgear, caps, and headscarves are all permitted to be worn during a soccer game. 

You may find it surprising that so many different types of headcovers are permitted to be worn in soccer, especially as they are not compulsory pieces of equipment. But whatever hat you choose to wear, it must be within the guidelines set out in the rules.

If you are a goalkeeper, then you are allowed to wear a cap.

soccer hat

But the International Football Association Board (The organization that makes the soccer rules) has set out a list of requirements for any other headwear.

This is what they say:


Where head covers (excluding goalkeepers’ caps) are worn, they must:

  • be black or the same main color as the shirt (provided that the players of the same team wear the same color)
  • be in keeping with the professional appearance of the player’s equipment
  • not be attached to the shirt
  • not be dangerous to the player wearing it or any other player (e.g. opening/closing mechanism around the neck)
  • not have any part(s) extending out from the surface (protruding elements)

As you can see, there is a broad scope for the type of headwear that a player can wear in soccer.

As long as the hat’s color matches the player’s jersey, it looks professional and has no protruding or dangerous parts; then it is acceptable to wear a hat in soccer.

Can You Wear a Headband in Soccer?

The rules we’ve discussed above also relate to wearing a headband or bandana in soccer.

A player can wear a headband or a bandana in soccer. The rules of soccer permit a player to wear any head covering as long as the color matches the player’s jersey, it looks professional and has no protruding or dangerous parts.

Headbands and bandanas can be a great option if you have long hair. The last thing you need is your hair flying across your face as you are about to pass or take a shot at goal.

U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team players Alex Morgan and Julie Ertz are well known for wearing headbands while playing soccer. But many people are surprised at how well the headbands stay on and keep a player’s hair in place.

If you think you would benefit from using the same headband as them, let me quickly tell you the best way to wear a soccer headband.

How To Wear a Soccer Headband

To wear the same type of headband as the women on the USWNT, the first thing you need is pre-wrap athletic tape.

Pre-wrap is a versatile, sticky tape that is used in many different sports. There are several places you can pick it up from, but the simplest option is to purchase pre-wrap tape in a color of your choice here (<<click link) on Amazon.

To wear a soccer headband:

  1. First, break off a strip of pre-wrap approximately 12-15″ long
  2. Next, place it around your neck and tie the ends together
  3. Then, break off the excess tape next to the knot you have made
  4. Rotate the pre-wrap, so the knot is at the back of your neck
  5. Then, fold the pre-wrap on itself, so it sticks together
  6. Lastly, position the pre-wrap headband on your head, where it feels comfortable.

To watch Alex Morgan herself do this, check out the video below.

How to make your Alex Morgan Headband

Can You Wear Gloves?

If you are about to go out and play soccer on a freezing day in winter, you will no doubt be considering wearing a pair of gloves.

We all know that your hands are one of the first parts of your body to feel cold when you spend time out in freezing temperatures. And it’s only natural to want to keep your hands warm rather than cold.

I recently wrote an article –  Why Soccer Players Wear Gloves  – and explained how wearing gloves could actually improve a player’s performance.

If you spend a game trying to keep your hands warm, you are wasting time focusing on them rather than on what is happening on the soccer field in front of you.

It’s completely acceptable to wear gloves during a soccer game. If you’re looking to buy a pair that are specifically designed to improve your performance, I recommend getting these ones from soccer.com.

Can You Wear Tights or Leggings?

Another item of clothing you may be considering wearing during the cold winter months is tights or leggings.

If your legs are feeling cold then, you’ll be happy to know you are allowed to cover them!

Players can wear tights or leggings in soccer. The rules of soccer permit a player to wear them as long as they are the same color as the player’s shorts. 

Many players have worn leggings while playing soccer over the years. From Neymar to Ronaldinho, players have worn tights to stay warm and benefit from the advantages of wearing compression leggings.

soccer leggings

The most important thing to be aware of if you are thinking of wearing these is that they must be the same color as your team’s shorts. And if your team’s shorts are multiple colors, then the leggings must match the lowest part of the shorts.

Here’s exactly what the rules say:

“Undershorts/tights must be the same color as the main color of the shorts or the lowest part of the shorts – players of the same team must wear the same color.”

IFAB LAWS OF THE GAME

If you’re looking to get a pair for yourself, I recommend you have a look at these ones on Amazon.

Do Soccer Players Wear Braces?

The last piece of equipment that I want to look at today is ankle and knee braces.

There are many occasions where you may have been injured and want to support that joint that has been damaged. If you’re still recovering but are ready to join a game again, or you just want to protect that joint from further injury, you need to know if you’re OK to wear a brace for soccer.

You can wear an ankle or knee brace for soccer. Soccer players wear ankle braces to support their ankle joints and allow them to heal. The rules of soccer permit a player to wear a brace during soccer.

As with many other pieces of equipment, the rules of soccer allow a player to wear them as long as they are not dangerous to the player wearing it or other players on the field.

Ankle and knee braces are beneficial to the player wearing them and don’t pose any risk to the other players around them.

For more information about what a soccer player wears, check out one of my related articles:

Ben

Hi! My name's Ben. I've played, watched, read about, and enjoyed soccer throughout my life. I really enjoy finding out more about the game I love and sharing it with you all. Sign up to the yoursoccerhome.com newsletter here or check out more about me here - Ben Clayfield

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