Why Do Soccer Referees Wear High Socks?

Without a doubt there are some spectators who revel in making fun of how soccer referees look like.

You have to admit, their attire and overall appearance does look quite ridiculous especially when you compare them against the players themselves who exude an aura of coolness by comparison.

For those new to the game, how referees dress isn’t something that would seem unusual or funny.

But for the seasoned viewers, every element of their appearance has already been thoroughly dissected.

One particular aspect of a referee’s attire that causes quite the talk amongst spectators is their socks.

Why do soccer match officials wear high socks to games?

After all, they don’t need long socks to insert shin guards and hold them in place like players do.

Well, there’s actually a simple answer that actually justifies their actions here.

Soccer referees wear long socks as part of dressing and presenting themselves in a professional manner. With a shirt tucked in and socks pulled all the way up, referees look the part and are able to command respect on the field of play.

Now, read on to understand this a little bit more.


Reasons why soccer referees wear long socks

Match officials come under a lot of scrutiny for their performances, especially when they make mistakes that cause unfavorable outcomes.

Can you imagine the outrage that people would have if referees didn’t look the part in addition to being lousy decision makers on the field?

Fans of teams would probably riot!

That leads us on to one of the main reasons why referees wear high socks as part of their overall outward appearance.


1. Presentation and uniformity

why soccer referees wear high socks - presentation and uniformity

Being presentable as a referee is the gold standard the officials continuously strive to be.

With socks pulled high, referees can maintain a disciplined look that is able to command the respect of the players on the field.

This is critical especially because of the need to constantly control the flow of the game and the events that take place on the grass.

Believe it or not, a professional look has a sort of subconscious effect on the player of both sides.

They take the referee a lot more seriously at a professional level than they likely would if the game was a casual kickabout between friends with a voluntary official.

And this is why you tend to see a lot more pitch fights between Sunday-league level teams and amateur ones as opposed to those playing at the highest level.

Some players at the top of the game even fear the referee!

Anyway, let’s get back to the main point.

Wearing pulled up socks helps referees look sharp, presentable which is a big part of keeping players and managers under control during fiercely contested matches.


2. Keeping legs warm

why soccer referees wear high socks - keeping legs warm

One secondary reason why referees wear their socks high is to keep their legs warm.

Soccer seasons usually run throughout the course of the calendar year, which means exposure to the different weather elements as the sport is primarily an outdoor activity.

Temperatures within stadiums can fall very low, particularly during the winter months.

A referee wouldn’t want the lower parts of their body to freeze as they officiate games, so the best course of action is to keep their socks pulled up long as the polyester material of the socks wick sweat away and helps to insulate their legs from the cold.

For example, according to data from 2017, Newcastle United’s St James Park has the lowest average maximum temperature at 12.1 degrees Celsius.

That figure was the warmest that this particular stadium was likely to get over the course of that year, meaning it was usually even cooler within the ground throughout the winter months.

Referees are humans just like spectators and players, so they have to take care of their own physical health by pulling their socks up to the top.


Can soccer referees pull down their socks?

Of course, referees can pull down their socks if they need to.

However, you’re unlikely to spot a match official doing so as they are very strict to set a good example and look presentable.

Even if a referee had a really itchy leg that would tempt them to scratch, you could put a big sum of money on them not succumbing to the urge of pulling their sock down and getting rid of the itch!

Referees try their best to follow all the rules, and by doing so they make the sport orderly and inspire young viewers who may want to emulate them in the future.

Samuel Waihenya
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