If you’re somewhere in the northern hemisphere right now, as we are in Europe, and you play your 5-a-side outside then you’ll have noticed that it’s starting to get pretty cold. Pretty bloody cold indeed!
We love 5-a-side but sometimes the thought of standing on some cold Astroturf, whilst the freezing wind whistles rushes past your head, can test the resolve of even the most committed players.
One solution is to get indoors and start playing futsal, but if you don’t have that luxury you might want to consider dressing for the occasion, starting with investing some cash in a decent winter hat.
Why would I want to wear a hat to play football?
You might be familiar with the old advice that around half of your heat lost is through your head. Well, it turns out that this is complete cobblers, as the British medical journal published a couple of years ago.
It turns out that the actual heat lost through your head is a lot closer to 7 per cent. Now, you might scoff at that figure, which is a big climb-down from ‘over 50%’, but in that case you’d be losing sight of the fact that it’s still rather a lot of heat to be losing around one of the most sensitive areas of your body.
If you can insulate your cranium in winter and save 7% of your body heat, then why not? It’s not just about the head lost anyway, it’s about the fact that your ears are slowly turning to two blocks of ice. You wouldn’t leave other sensitive areas of your body voluntarily uncovered in the winter would you? How about not wearing any socks, or leaving a bit of midriff exposed to the elements, or maybe just doing away with shorts?
Ok, that’s gone too far, but the point is, that if you’re feeling the cold, then cover it up. It’s as a man named Alfred Wainwright once said: “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing”.
In the next article, we’ll look at a selection of hats you could buy for football, but before we do that – you need to know where the rules stand on wearing one.
Am I really allowed to wear a hat to play football?
It should be mentioned that hat wearing for football is a bit of a grey area.
In fact, the rules of the game, according to the English FA, have disregarded any mention of head coverings of any sort leaving the hat-wearer in a no-man’s land of headwear confusion.
The only mention that you’ll find that might relate to this is the following generic advice regarding player attire, found under Law 4: Player’s Attire:
A player must not use equipment or wear anything that is dangerous to himself or another player (including any kind of jewellery).
So, not much help there, I think we can agree. Which is why we thought we’d get in touch with a proper authority on the rules of the game for a comment – a former professional referee, no less. And who better to advise on whether you can keep your chilly head warm in the cold months than a man with the surname ‘Winter’.
Yes, here is the question we pitched to Jeff Winter (check out his website by the way, it’s an entertaining read – if you check the ‘reader’s letters’ then you’ll see this query below, so you can check it’s from the man himself):
Can I get your expertise on a burning issue regarding the wearing of hats in football?
We know that Peter Cech wears a protective hat for football, which he’s clearly allowed to wear under the rules of the game and you might also remember that Efe Sodje had some notoriety for wearing a do-rag in the lower divisions throughout his career.
With the cold weather setting in, I’ve been wondering just how far a player’s entitlement to wear a hat extends under the rules of the game, as I am partial to wearing my wooly hat whilst playing my football.
Leaving aside the doubtful fashion and questionable attitude to cold weather, is it allowable under the laws of the game to wear a wooly hat to football?
The only thing that I can see in the rules of the game referencing this is that “a player must not use equipment or wear anything that is dangerous to himself or another player (including any kind of jewellery)”.
So, what exactly is the status with wearing headgear? It is allowable to wear a hat and, if so can you sort the following into what is and isn’t allowable:
– Protective skull caps.
– Wooly hats / Beanie Hats
– Bowler hats / Fez
Look forward to hearing your response.
Worried that we’d brought a bit too much mirth to a serious issue with the suggestion that a former professional referee should tell us whether we can wear a Fez to play football, we were relieved to hear that he liked it and described it as a ‘cracking question’! Here’s the reply:
Cracking question, I wish I had a definitive answer. In my day it’s not something I ever came across. Goalkeepers are allowed to wear caps to protect their eyes from the sun as well. I don’t recall anything specific in the Laws regarding the wearing of headwear. As you correctly point out the only reference I recall is on the subject of dangerous items.
To be quite honest I think its left to commonsense, but even on religious beliefs we don’t see players wearing turbans etc that happens in other sports such as hockey.
I will ask some active colleagues to see if anything has been introduced or guidelines given regarding the subject since I retired.
Amazing – Jeff replied and raised some good points, what about religious headwear!? And being the gent he is (I don’t always remember calling him a gent when he refereed, but I’ve changed my mind now) he gave us some more a couple of day s later:
Well I decided to investigate further. Law four, players equipment I am informed discusses the five items that must be worn, boots, shinpads, socks, shorts and jerseys.
No mention of other items such as gloves and headgear. Undergarments must be the same colour as the shorts and coloured tape can’t be used on socks, it must be the same colour as the socks.
It seems it takes something to happen before the authorities make a ruling, such as happened a few years ago when snoods were outlawed.
So as it stands if headwear was worn it would be up to the referee on the day to make a decision that in turn would highlight a new trend and then we get a definitive answer and ruling .
Well, fancy that – there’s no actual ruling.
So, the bottom line is that it always comes back to the principle of ‘is it a danger to self or others’. Now, how many people have been injured by a wooly hat, I ask you?
It seems that the wooly hat is probably on the right side of the law, certainly for 5-a-side, but what about the other types of headwear we’ve seen on the 11-a-side field (and off the field too). We took a guess at what you’ll get away with on the footballing head wear spectrum:
The upshot is that if you want to keep your head warm by wearing a hat for 5-a-side then do it, and if challenged by the referee, know that there’s actually no rule against it, even in professional football.