English Football League Votes to Relax Kit Rules to Help Colour Blind Fans

Teams in the English Football League (EFL) have voted to relax their kit rules to help colour blind fans both in stadiums and watching on television better distinguish between sides.

The EFL — which includes clubs at all levels of the English professional football pyramid except the Premier League — approved the proposal on Friday at their annual general meeting. Starting in the 2022-23 season, clubs will be allowed to wear their away or third kit at home in order to avoid a scenario where colour blind people would find it difficult to differentiate between the teams.

The proposal also allows teams to “mix and match” elements of their registered kits to avoid such scenarios. The EFL will work to be proactive in helping clubs identify when potential colour blind kit clashes may occur and give them enough notice to make alternate arrangements.

Photo courtesy The Guardian

The recent League Two promotion playoff semifinal between Sunderland and Sheffield Wednesday (pictured above) was cited as a kit matchup that caused problems for colour blind people. Sunderland wore tops with white and red vertical stripes, while Sheffield Wednesday’s jerseys had white and blue vertical stripes.

EFL chief executive officer Kathryn Albany-Ward is quoted in The Guardian saying: “We know that statistically at least one player in every male squad is colour blind and these regulation changes will make some ties easier for these players too, thereby improving overall performance of the teams.”

Colour blindness affects approximately one in every 12 men and one in every 200 women.

Albany-Ward also urged other leagues to follow suit. The Premier League reportedly has no plans to formally pass a proposal along the same lines, but its rulebook does already advise that clubs should provide enough contrast in their kits for colour blind players, referees and spectators.

Prior to the vote, EFL clubs were required to wear their home kits for every home match except for one per season, where they could have worn something else. These could include commemorative kits or kits to raise awareness for a charity, such as the initiative on Boxing Day 2021 where teams wore their away kits at home to support Shelter, an organization that advocates on behalf of homeless people in the United Kingdom.

Last October, World Rugby announced it would ban teams from wearing red and green kits against each other in the 2027 Rugby World Cup.