I am currently watching the UEFA EURO 2016 matches and I saw the referees checking the shoes of the players.

What are they looking for?

2 Answers 2


The check at the start of the game is a simple safety check.

There are no specific rules governing types of footwear except that they "should not be dangerous".

In practice this means that the ref is looking for:

  • Worn plastic studs that have developed a sharp plastic lip at the top (usually from walking on concrete) that could cut someone.
  • Sharp studs - studs (including metal) that have become sharpened to a point (perhaps deliberately) , or running spikes, golf spikes etc.
  • Other parts of the boots that have become sharp or generally dangerous to other players.

A little source on the laws

Note: I'm aware of how ridiculous this all looks in the context of a major competition, it really is a matter of the ref just ticking the boxes. At an amateur level however, these problems occur regularly enough (especially the first point) that it's worth checking.

  • While it does sound ridiculous, it would not be surprising for players to try and get an edge. Are sharper cleats better than regular ones? Do they intentionally want to injure a player in order to get an advantage? This isn't unheard of in sports. At lower levels however, yes a lot of people walk to the field and will damage the cleats and make them dangerous.
    – Yousend
    Commented Jun 21, 2016 at 18:34
  • Example 2 (metal studs) is also relatively likely at the youth levels in the us. Since many players also play baseball and (American) football, where metal spikes are legal.
    – kuhl
    Commented Jun 24, 2016 at 11:18
  • @kuhl What do you mean by "Spikes" here? Do you mean sharply pointed studs? Metal studs are fine in football (soccer), so long as they're not sharp, or found to be dangerous in some other way.
    – Niall
    Commented Jun 24, 2016 at 11:36
  • 1
    @Niall Just mean metal studs. they're not fine at most youth levels (at least in the US) and that's what the youth referees are looking for.
    – kuhl
    Commented Jun 24, 2016 at 12:03

I think it goes back to the fifties when the cleats were nailed to the sole of the shoes. The leather of the cleats would wear and expose the nail ends. That is what the referee would look for.

  • 1
    Please provide resources to your answer
    – alamoot
    Commented Oct 8, 2018 at 3:10

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