Underwear controversy in Toronto: No bending of the rules for Club America

In case you missed it on Tuesday night between the tunnel fracas and the hotly disputed penalty call, there was also an underwear controversy that erupted in the wake of the Concacaf Champions League semifinal first leg between Toronto FC and Mexico's Club America.

Here’s the shorts of it: Club America head coach Miguel Herrera wanted an exception to be made for his players and he didn’t get his way at BMO Field.

El Piojo took issue with the fact that Costa Rican fourth official Ricardo Montero, whom he called a clown (“payaso”) and a jerk (“sangron”) during his postgame press conference, went into the locker room before the match to check on the color of the undergarments that Club America players were wearing.

“The players [for Club America] didn’t have the [right] color underwear,” Herrera admitted, “and I think with a little common sense that some of the players could have been allowed to play with underwear to cover themselves a little from the cold. But because they [undergarments] were black, he made them take it off.”

The rainy conditions at BMO Field saw temperatures dip to 36 degrees Fahrenheit during the match.

“These things, I think, they begin to condition you that the referees aren’t coming in with the sense of calling an even match or officiating on par with an important semifinal match,” Herrera continued. “You can live with the errors on the field, but when they come with that prepotency, I think there’s no place for it.”

The Laws of the Game don’t side with the Club America manager, with Law 4 stating:

Undershirts must be the same color as the main color of the shirt sleeve; undershorts/tights must be the same color as the main color of the shorts or the lowest part of the shorts – players of the same team must wear the same color.

In summary: All players on a team must wear the same color undergarments and that color needs to match the shorts (for compression shorts or leggings) or shirts (for undershirts).

The Professional Referee Organization (PRO) did point out one exception when contacted about the rule by MLSsoccer.com: If the players’ shorts have a band at the bottom, the underwear must be the same color as that band. Also, if a jersey features different colored stripes of equal width, only one of those colors can be used by all the players on that team.

Although the color schemes are clearly outlined in pregame organizational meetings, referees will typically flag issues with gear during warmups or in the tunnel ahead of the pregame ceremonies.

No chance of underwear being an issue in Leg 2 on April 10 in Mexico City with a high of 80 degrees expected on matchday.