We had an incident during a recent game where a player was tackled causing him to loose his boot. The referee deemed the tackle fair and failed to award a free kick. Our player indicated to the referee that he had lost his boot by waving it in the air. The referee indicated to our player that the play should continue. The opposing player continued, clear on goal and scored with our player chasing the opponent with only 1 boot on.

This does not seem fair. Can somebody indicated if any laws of the game have been broken? I have looked at law 4, but can only find mention of a goal being allowable if a boot has been immediately lost.

  • If you're looking for the rules, your player should have left the field for getting his shoe on again. There's a rule players can't be on the field with incorrect clothing. It's the same you are not allowed to continue playing with a bleeded shirt or the ref can give you a yellow card for not having your shirt in your shorts (but I saw this only once, most refs wan you just to enter the field with correct clothing). But I don't know any rule that's says you can't score if your opponent is not dressed correctly
    – Phab
    Commented Oct 12, 2015 at 6:53
  • interesting, but in this case the player was "not dressed correctly" because the opposing player caused it. It seems a double whammy to expect a team to continue a man down caused by a tackle from the opposing player, and for our player to get booked for this
    – theINtoy
    Commented Oct 12, 2015 at 18:37
  • @Phab "the ref can give you a yellow card for not having your shirt in your shorts" - well, the referee can do whatever they like, but if they were to do this, they would be wrong by law. There is no requirement in the Laws of the Game that shirts are to be tucked in. Commented Oct 13, 2015 at 2:47
  • @studro Well, I would say you can wear your shirt like you want, but in law 4 it's said "The referee has to check whether the equipment is in order" and he can give a yellow card if not ...what's "in order" or not depends on the refs opinion. He's the boss ;) you can try to disuss your yellow card with this type of ref if you want to ...I wont.
    – Phab
    Commented Oct 13, 2015 at 5:47
  • It's in order if the equipment is being worn and it does not pose a danger to the player or anyone else. The only part of Law 4 that stipulates how a piece of equipment must be worn states that "shinguards are covered entirely by the stockings". Furthermore if the referee was to come to the erroneous conclusion that an untucked shirt wasn't in order, they cannot caution until the player either refused to tuck the shirt in, or was found to be intentionally wearing it that way after having already correcting it. In your example, the referee would be wrong on two counts. Commented Oct 13, 2015 at 23:09

1 Answer 1


The Laws have not been broken here.

The player who made the challenge has committed no offence.

The player without footwear has committed no offence as he had immediately tried to play the ball after losing his footwear.

p. 69 of the 2015/16 FIFA Laws of the Game:

If a player loses his footwear accidentally and immediately plays the ball and/or scores a goal, there is no infringement and the goal is awarded because he lost his footwear by accident.

If the referee decided that your player had committed an offence by continuing to play with the incorrect equipment for an extended period of time, they would follow this procedure on p. 23 of the 2015/16 FIFA Laws of the Game:

In the event of any infringement of this Law:

  • play need not be stopped
  • the player at fault is instructed by the referee to leave the field of play to correct his equipment
  • the player leaves the field of play when the ball next ceases to be in play, unless he has already corrected his equipment
  • any player required to leave the field of play to correct his equipment must not re-enter without the referee’s permission
  • the referee checks that the player’s equipment is correct before allowing him to re-enter the field of play
  • the player is only allowed to re-enter the field of play when the ball is out of play

If your player put himself in danger by continuing to play without footwear, he would be committing offence, and an indirect free kick would be awarded to the opponents.

p. 38 of the 2015/16 FIFA Laws of the Game:

An indirect free kick is also awarded to the opposing team if, in the opinion of the referee, a player:

  • plays in a dangerous manner

However, given that the opponent was through on goal, the referee would most certainly play advantage here, otherwise he would have to send off your player for:

(p. 40, 2015/16 FIFA Laws of the Game: )

  • denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity to an opponent moving towards the player’s goal by an offence punishable by a free kick or a penalty kick

On p. 35 of the 2015/16 FIFA Laws of the Game, we find the preconditions for a goal (emphasis mine):

A goal is scored when the whole of the ball passes over the goal line, between the goalposts and under the crossbar, provided that no infringement of the Laws of the Game has been committed previously by the team scoring the goal.

There was no offence by the team scoring, so the goal stands.

To address your point

This does not seem fair.

It's completely fair. The opponent did not break the Laws in challenging your player, so why should they be punished for it? It's certainly unfortunate - just like it would have been if your teammate had rolled an ankle or slipped over while chasing the defender.

If your teammate's equipment doesn't fit will enough to prevent it coming off in a challenge for the ball, he's probably most at fault for choosing equipment that is unsuitable.

  • Great response. Thanks. To clarify, our player was the defender. He lost his boot as part of a heavy challenge. Whilst the referee did not deem the challenge a foul, we were certainly put at a disadvantage by the tackle. Law 4 seems to cover the case where the boot is lost by the attacking team but makes no mention of what decision a referee should make if the defending team is disadvantaged by a tackle that causes a boot to be lost. I appreciate the time you have taken to put in a such a detailed response. Thanks.
    – theINtoy
    Commented Oct 14, 2015 at 9:38
  • 1
    Well, a tackle is meant to put one party at a disadvantage :D
    – Don_Biglia
    Commented Oct 15, 2015 at 6:58
  • 1
    If enough contact was made with the foot to make your teammate lose his boot, it smells like the tackle was potentially careless (winning the ball first does not give a tackler license to clean up their opponent's foot afterwards), but it's certainly hard to comment without a video / photo of the incident. If the tackle was careless, it should have been called as a foul. The same principle applies with attackers and defenders in Law 4. They can continue playing without the boot for a short period without committing an offence, but play is not stopped for them to correct their equipment. Commented Oct 15, 2015 at 23:14

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