The Italian Almanac

soccer referee

Italian News - August 6

In the wake of the latest pre-season instructions from European soccer authority UEFA, Italian referees are wondering whether they have to remove their wedding rings before matches. For the moment, the feeling is that they will.

UEFA recently sent referees around Europe a letter insisting on the strict application this year of rules banning necklaces, ear-rings, piercings and other metallic jewelry from the soccer pitch. The list of outlawed items included wedding rings.

Italian referees at their summer training camp were asked by journalists whether they too would abide by the ban on rings. Initially, they seemed stumped. Eventually, after some prodding, chief selector Maurizio Mattei, appeared to draw the inevitable conclusion, saying tentatively: "Why not?" The head of the national referees association, Tullio Lanese, also admitted that refs would also have to take off their rings, even though there was very little chance they could do any damage with them.

"Sure, we have to give a good example. It's difficult for a ref to tell a player to take his ring off when he's got one on his own finger." Lanese left himself some room for manoeuvre, however, indicating that meetings would have to be held with the key authorities on national soccer before a final decision could be made.

"This is a difficult problem, we'll sort it out next week," he said.