Die Spielregeln, Regelgeschichte
Kommentare 1

Law 4: The player’s equipment

This article has been updated to comply with the Laws of the Game 2023/24. It lists all the rule changes in the Laws of the Game and other association football codices before 1886 I know of. More on trials or withdrawn and defeated football rule proposals discussed at the Annual General Meeting of The IFAB on request (Contact).

In this article the development of the player’s equipment is described.



Year (Source) new or changed laws (proposing club/association, if known)
1st half in 19th century The early rules and regulations of English public schools and universities do not give any information about players‘ equipment except for the colour of their clothing. However, coloured drawings of football matches from the half century of the 19th century show that jerseys, overknee length shorts and boots were already used as clothing. If the jersey and shorts were not uniform or similar in colour, the teams wore different caps or one team wore a (non-uniform) cap, the other has none. So spectators could recognize the players, the colour of their caps was printed in newspaper reports in addition to the names of the players. [1]Cf. Brown, Paul: Please do not strain the ropes – a football programme from 1875. In: Goalpost. URL: http://www.goalpostbooks.co.uk/please-do-not-strain-the-ropes/.
1858 (Sheffield FC) Colours: Sheffield FC mainly played in the first years matches within the club. Different coloured caps were prescribed to distinguish the teams (red or blue). With the foundation of the Sheffield FA this law was deleted.
1863 (FA) Footwear: The cut and material of the boots were not fixed, but against possible injuries protecting nails, iron plates and gutta-percha [2]A rubber-like fabric. were prohibited (gutta-percha was deleted in 1904). Everything had to be intruded in such a way that it was on the same level as the boot (from 1863, 1872 once again with emphasis on suggestion of Great Marlow FC included in the code).
1867 (Sheffield FA) Colours: The older club has the privilege to choose the jersey color.
1881 (FA) Shin guards: Introduction of shin guards (Wanderers FC). These should not madewith metal in order not to increase the risk of injury.
1887 (IFAB) Footwear: Addition that bars are only allowed in the soles of the shoes (FA).
1888 (IFAB) Footwear: Bars measure at least one and a half inches in length and and a half inches in width. Studs are round with a diameter of at least half an inch and never are conceal or pointed. Bars or studs in the soles of the shoes must not project more than 0.5 inch. Their fastenings must be driven in flush with the leather.
1896 (IFAB) Footwear: Change that not protruding iron parts, but protruding metal parts are forbidden (FA).
1897 (IFAB) Footwear: Change that Guttapercha is forbidden not only on the soles, but on the whole shoes.
1898 (IFAB) Footwear: Alteration that bar shall be transvers (and still flat) (FA). Change: The referee checks the shoes before the match [so that no offence can occur] (FA).
1910 (IFAB) Footwear: Studs no longer need to be concelaed, but must not be conical. Addition: The referee may also check the shoes during the match and if a player’s shoes do not meet the requirements, he may not play. (SFA)
1929 (IFAB) Footwear: It is added so that a player who has had to change his shoes due to infringement must first ask the referee for permission to enter the field of play.
1933 (IFAB) Footwear: In addition, the player may not enter the field of play until the ball has ceased to be in play.
1937 (IFAB) Footwear: The requirements for studs have been deleted. It is added that combined studs and bars may be worn provided the bar is affixed transversely and extends the full width of the boot and the whole conforms to the general requirements of this rule. The bar, in conjunction with the stud, must be rounded at the corners and must be free of metal plates of any kind (FA).
1938 (IFAB) Footwear: New specification that the player must not wear anything that can be dangerous for other players. Bars and studs can now be made of leather or rubber. Metal plates may also not be worn if they are covered with leather or rubber.
In general: List of the usual equipment of a football player: 1 jersey or shirt, short trousers, stockings, boots. Additionally, the goalkeepers wear colours which distinguish him from the other players.
Sanctions: If a player enters the field without permission, he will be cautioned. The match is restarted with an IDFK at the place where the ball was when the referee stopped the match.

The goalkeepers wear colours which distinguish him from the other players.
1939 (IFAB) Footwear: It is deleted that all fastenings of bars and studs must be driven in flush of the leather or rubber (FA).
1951 (IFAB) Footwear: Bars and studs may project three quarters of an inch instead of half an inch. Addition that small metal seating for the screw type of studs may be worn (but still no other metal).
1955 (IFAB) Footwear: Bars and studs can now also be made of aluminium, plastic or other similar material. If they are made of rubber, they are now only made of soft rubber. Bars must now have rounded corners (FA).
1959 (IFAB) Footwear: Deletion that used nails shall be driven in flush with the surface (FA).
1961 (IFAB) Footwear: Additional, bars and studs must be solid (FIFA).
1963 (IFAB) Footwear: Change that studs must not project less than half an inch, but not less than a quarter of an inch.
1973 (IFAB) In general: Reintroducing that the goalkeeper wear colours which distinguish him from the other players and additionally the referee (FA).
1975 (IFAB) Footwear: Additionalley, additional supporting material to stabilise studs of soft materials and rigdes which shall not project more than 5 mm from the sole and moulded to strengthen it, shall be permitted provided that they are in no way dangerous to other players (FIFA).
1978 (IFAB) Sanctions: Addition: When the offence is committed by a player in his opponents‘ goal area, in which case, the free-kick shall be taken from a point anywhere within that half of the goal area nearest to where the offence occurred (FA).
1987 (IFAB) Sanctions: Supplement that when taking a free kick after an infringement, the general conditions for free kicks from Law 13 apply (FA).
1990 (IFAB) Dangerous equipment: Deletion of all requirements of footwear except that it must not be dangerous to other players (FIFA).
In general: Reintroducing the list of the usual equipment of a football player: 1 shirt or jersey, shorts, stocking, footwear and additional to the requirement of 1938-1973 shinguards (FIFA).
Shin guards: Shinguards, which must be covered entirely by the stockings, shall be made of a suitable material (rubber, plastic, polyurethane or similar substance) and shall afford a reasonable degree of protection (FIFA). Now, shin guards are compulsory.
1992 (IFAB) Dangerous equipment: Correction that, in the event of an offence against the requirements of the shoes, the player will not be sent-off from the field of play for the duration of the match, but will only be required to leave the feld of play until he wears shoes that meet the requirements (FA).
1997 (IFAB) In general: Supplement that thermal undershorts must be of the same main colour as the shorts and that goalkeeper must wear colour which distinguish him from the other players (as 1938-1973), the referee and the assistant referees.
Sanctions: Supplement that also a yellow card is shown for the offence which is cautioned.

Addition that also jewellery can be dangerous to other player and must not be worn.

Reintroduction: Goalkeeper must wear colour which distinguish him from the other players (as 1938-1973), the referee and the assistant referees.
2002 (IFAB) Commercial ads: Advertising is permitted: on the player’s jersey. Jerseys must have sleeves.
Advertising is not permitted neither on the player’s shorts, stockings and footwear nor on undershirts which are revealed. A player removing his jersey to reveal slogans or advertising will be sanctioned by the competition organiser.
2003 (IFAB) Commercial ads: Removal that advertising on the player’s jersey is permitted.
2006 (IFAB) In general: Supplement that undergarments must be of the same main colour as the sleeve of the jersey or shirt. Supplement that undergarments must be of the same main colour as the sleeve of the jersey or shirt. (FIFA)
2007 (IFAB) Commercial ads: Addition: Like advertising, political, religious or personal statements is prohibited.
2008 (IFAB) Dangerous equipment: Addition that also jewellery can be dangerous to other player and must not be worn.
In general: Supplement that the requirement should not be, but must be and that both teams colours must distinguish them from each other and the referee and assistant referees.
Shin guards: Additionally, also similar material instead of rubber and plastic is allowed.
2011 (IFAB) Supplement that tights must be of the same main colour as the shourts (FIFA).
2014 (IFAB) Also pictures are forbidden on the basic equipment or undergarment (FA).
2016 (IFAB) Dangerous equipment: In addition, some examples are given of what belongs to jewellery and it is forbidden to cover it only with tape. It has to be removed and if someone refuses it will be cautioned
Commercial ads: Equipment must not have any political, religious or personal slogans, statements or images. Players must not reveal undergarments that show political, religious, personal slogans, statements or images, or advertising other than the manudacturer#s logo. For any offence the player and/or the team will be sanctioned by the competition organiser, national football association or by FIFA.
Other equipment: Introduction of a new passage concerning other equipments, more specifically, for head protecting and the requirements of head covers.
EPTS: Allowance of electronic communication and EPTS.
2017 (IFAB) EPTS: EPTS is allowed in matches played in an official competition organised under the auspices of FIFA, confederation or national football associations if it bear the IMS mark.
2018 (IFAB) Sanctions: It is added that if a player enters the field without permission and interfere with play, a direct kick is awarded to the opponent.
EPTS: Electronic communication system are allowed for team officials for tactical/coaching reasons but only small, mobile, hand-held equipment (e.g. microphone, headphone, ear-piece, mobilephone/smartphone, smartwatch, tablet, laptop) may be used. A team official who uses unauthorised equipment or who behaves in an inappropriate manner as a result of the use of electronic or communication equipment will be dismisse from the technical area.
It is added that a professional standard was developed by FIFA and approved by The IFAB in order to support the competition organisers with the approval process of reliable and accurate electronic performance and tracking systems; it will be implemented on 1st June 2019.
Commercial ads: It is added who this provision applies to (players, substitutes and substituted players) and what is permitted and what is prohibited:
– permitted: player’s number, name, team crest/logo, initiative slogans/emblems promoting the game of football, respect and integrity as well as any advertising permitted by competition rules or national FA, confederation or FIFA regulations, facts of a match (teams, date, competition/event, venue), permitted slogans, statements or images should be confined to the shirt front and/or armband. Also, in some cases, the slogan, statement or image might only appear on the captain’s armband.
– prohibited: slogans, statements or images using offensive, provoking, derisory, insulting or abusive language and/or gestures, any person(s), living or dead (unless part of the official competition name), any local, regional, national or international political party/organisation/group, etc., any local, regional or national government or any of its departments, offices or functions, any organisation which is discriminatory, any organisation whose aims/actions are likely to offend a notable number of people, any specific political act/event.
Additional, when commemorating a significant national or international event, the sensibilities of the opposing team (including its supporters) and the general public should be carefully considered.
Competition rules may contain further restrictions/limitations, particularly in relation to the size, number and position of permitted slogans, statements and images. It is recommended that disputes relating to slogans, statements or images be resolved prior to a match/competition taking place.
2019 (IFAB) It is changed that all undergarment must have the exact colour of the shirt sleeve, not only the main colour.
2021 (IFAB) To allow some non-violent inappropriate behaviour to be considered ‚offensive, insulting or abusive‘ and result in a sending-off, ‚action(s)/acting‘ replace ‚gesture(s)/gesturing‘ in the relevant descriptions.
The EPTS used must meet the requirements and bear one of the marks of the FIFA Quality Programme for Footballs.
If EPTS is used, the equipment does not need to have a specific mark.

„Gesture(s)“ is replaced by „action(s)“ to clarify that not only offensive, insulting or abusive gestures can be penalised with a sending-off, but any action considered as such.
2022 (IFAB)


1 Cf. Brown, Paul: Please do not strain the ropes – a football programme from 1875. In: Goalpost. URL: http://www.goalpostbooks.co.uk/please-do-not-strain-the-ropes/.
2 A rubber-like fabric.

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