Following an incident in which a foil punctured the FIE transparent visor mask, the FIE has removed their required use at FIE competitions.

The International Fencing Federation (FIE) announced that the use of the transparent visor masks would no longer be required at foil events pending an investigation into the causes of an accident where a foil broke through the Lexan protective plate during a foil bout at the European Junior Championships.

On November 1st, the Swedish Fencing Federation ( reported that
the Lexan visor of a fencing mask was penetrated during the men’s foil competition at the European Junior Championships in Odense. The fencer was not fatally injured but the incident is considered very serious.

According the the Swedish site and the FIE, the accident occurred in the round of 64 and the foil blade did not break in the action.  The accident resulted in a cut to Latvian fencer Davids Gasilovskis.  Gasilovskis was able to continue the bout after an injury time out.

The FIE has stated that the mask was given to the President of the SEMI Commission, Eduardo Dos Santos so that a full technical investigation on the mask failure can be completed.

The FIE also ruled that:

Until the findings of this investigation are known, it has been
decided to temporarily suspend the mandatory use of the
transparent mask in foil in all FIE competitions.

The FIE and Swedish federations both point out that the masks have been in use for a large number of training bouts with only one other reported incident.  The other incident involved an epee, but there is no report of the results of inspection of that mask.

Additional discussion including a link to the photo of the mask can be found on the forum thread here:Visor Mask Punctured at European Junior Championships.

The FIE also issued the following "Care and Use" instructions for the visor masks:

MAINTENANCE OF THE MASK (visor and metal mesh)

Reminder of information letter 4-08 of March 8, 2008

– Check that the mesh part of the masks (visor and traditional) is in good condition.This can easily be done by placing the metal wire mesh against the light. And regularly check that the mask and its bib are in good condition.

Chemical damage tests were carried out on the masks of several brands and 800 and 1600 Newton cloth. These tests confirmed the following safety recommendations:

– Keep the masks in their bags while transporting them

– For all types of masks (visor or metal mesh), if the bib of the mask is wet, wait until it dries before putting it away in its bag.

– Do not use the masks to carry containers holding liquids or glues, or to carry clothing, gloves or shoes which are wet or damp from perspiration.

– Avoid all contact between the visor and chemical agents, in particular glues, acetones or other liquids that damage plastics and LEXAN.

– In the case of a mask with a transparent visor, change the visor when one of the following four situations occurs first:

a) Within a maximum of 2 years after the date marked on the visor;
b) Appearance of grooves or visible deep marks on the surface;
c) The visor is no longer transparent (opaque);
d) When the visor has been in contact with chemical agents.

– Always be equipped with a spare visor and the tools needed to replace the visor, ensure that all the screws are in place and that the frames and visor are correctly and adequately fitted.

– Only use Lexan or Makrolan visors bought from the mask’s manufacturer or its official representative.

– Clean the visor with a soft cloth and only use neutral liquids such as water.