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The Case Of Brad Guzan: Is It Legal For A Footballer To Wear A Microphone During A Match?

The Case of Brad Guzan: Is It Legal For A Footballer To Wear A Microphone During A Match?

Take a look at this video below of Brad Guzan; he had a microphone on while playing in a match between the MLS All Stars v. Juventus Football Club:

Could there have been a breach of the rules of the game of football as laid down by the International Football Association Board (IFAB)?

IFAB is the body empowered by FIFA to make laws that govern the game of Football. Article 6 (1) of the FIFA Statutes provides that:

“Each Member of FIFA shall play Association Football in compliance with the Laws of the Game issued by IFAB. Only IFAB may lay down and alter the Laws of the Game.”

Pursuant to that provision, IFAB makes the laws of the game of football, which it alters from time to time.

The relevant version to consider is the IFAB’s Laws of The Game 2018/2019; a portion of which regulates “equipments” that players must wear, and those that they may not wear.

Law 4, section 2 stipulates equipments that players must wear, which includes: shorts, a shirt with sleeves, socks, shinguards and footwears.

Law 4 section 4 on the other hand, regulates “other equipments” which are outside of those that have been made compulsory in section 2 – i.e equipments which may be worn and those which CANNOT be worn.

Although the use of the microphone made the match look more interesting and innovative (in my opinion), under the Law 4 section 4, IFAB expressly forbids the use of any electronic or communication equipment by players, except an EPTS (which a microphone does not fall under). In fact, the use of an electronic or communication equipment may only be enjoyed by TEAM OFFICIALS in certain circumstances. It provides thus:

“Electronic communication:
Players (including substitutes/substituted and sent off players) are not
permitted to wear or use any form of electronic or communication equipment
(except where EPTS is allowed). The use of any form of electronic
communication by team officials is permitted where it directly relates to player welfare or safety or 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 dismissed from the technical area.”

Thus, It is clear that the use of such electronic or communication devices by players is expressly prohibited. It is only in circumstances where the permission of the IFAB had been sought to make a modification (in this case, to use a microphone) pursuant to the provisions under “Modifications to the laws” that it can safely be said that there was no breach.

In any case that permission was not obtained for a modification, an officiating referee is expected to check the player putting on such prohibited equipment before the commencement of a match. If the referee finds out during the match, then he is expected to order the player to remove the equipment, pursuant to Law 4 Section 6:

“6. Offences and sanctions –
For any offence, play need not be stopped, and the player:
• is instructed by the referee to leave the field of play to correct the equipment
• leaves when play stops, unless the equipment has already been corrected

A player who leaves the field of play to correct or change equipment must:
• have the equipment checked by a match official before being allowed to
• only re-enter with the referee’s permission (which may be given during play)”

Written by:
‘Tosin Akinyemi, Esq.

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