Kuipers’ Ring Finger

Posted: May 27, 2015 by larbitre in Football
Tags: , , , ,

To borrow some words from Beyonce,

Let’s play a game.

Spot the differences between the two photos below (other than the deterioration in quality).

Exhibit 1

Exhibit 2

Exhibit 2

Found it? Well the heading of this post may have given it away.

The FIFA Refereeing Department in conjunction with IFAB incorporate the amendments discussed at the IFAB AGM every year. Here’s the typical timeline.

Laws of the Game Timeline

  1. End of November – IFAB Annual Business Meeting to determine AGM agenda of potential changes to the Laws of the Game
  2. Beginning of March – IFAB Annual General Meeting to discuss proposed changes and make decisions to accept, reject or proceed with trials before deciding
  3. End of May – FIFA Secretary General publishes a memo to all Member Associations of the changes to be made to the Laws of the Game
  4. July 1 – FIFA Laws of the Game’s latest edition is published on FIFA.com to take effect in the upcoming/next season for member associations

Feature Photo

Before a new edition is published, the design (look-and-feel) of the laws is sometimes revised but the most visible change is the yearly selected cover photo. The photo is typically anything related to FIFA match officials and refereeing. For a referee to be featured on the Laws of the Game cover is a huge honour. Every referee on the planet that refers to the Laws in their study view the referees on the cover as role models. The only thing more exclusive in refereeing than the referees being featured on the cover photos are the referees who have officiated a FIFA World Cup Final (20).

National FAs also produce their own copies of the Laws of the Game with their own cover photos but this post is dedicated to the 2014-2015 edition published by FIFA. The photo featured (above) is of Bjorn Kuipers, the Dutch referee representative at the World Cup. 2013 was an iconic year for him having officiated the UEFA Champions League Final and Confederations Cup Final. This earned him the feature cover of the Law book.

To FIFA’s embarrassment, the photo wasn’t as well vetted as they would have hoped. Referees around the world immediately pounced on it after it was released. After all, referees are observant by nature and know how to spot what’s out of place.

What’s the problem with the ring you ask?

Law Reference


Law 4 – Page 70

As clear as can be, the second paragraph mentions that referees are not allowed to wear jewellery. Unfortunately for them, their cover photo referee and role model was. Oh oh…

Cover up

Funnily enough, they noticed seven months later or rather likely someone in the department got a nudge after all the giggles. Their Photoshop expert hopped to it and removed the ring from the main online copy of the Laws.

Want to see for yourself?

Version 1
Version 2

Abracadabra and it’s gone! Poof! An old-fashioned cover-up.

  1. Jan (Dutch Referee Blog) says:

    Well spotted!

    The Dutch FA published a document with advice for referees. In that document the KNVB states that wearing wedding rings with a plain band (so smooth surface, no diamonds or whatever sticking out) is allowed. Players (and refs) don’t even have to put tape over it.

    So in The Netherlands that’s not a problem at all to wear a wedding ring like Kuipers did. But he now doesn’t wear it any more. Kuipers once told Dutch newspaper AD the following about it: “A photo of me with my wedding ring was published on an online referee forum. Is it allowed? it said. Since then don’t wear the ring, even in The Netherlands. I can remember that in the 2013/2014 season I was in the car three days after Ajax – PSV and recognized that there was no ring around my finger. I called Ajax. The ring was on the table in the dressing room. That’s where I always put it. Even in Lissabon (where he was for the CL final, Jan). I’m not afraid someone takes it away.”


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