Plans for a blue card are set to be announced as part of 10-minute sin-bin trials by football’s lawmakers — in what would be the first new card added to the professional game since yellows and reds were brought in for the 1970 World Cup in Mexico.
The International Football Association Board (IFAB) are due to publish their protocols on Friday, with blue believed to be favoured over orange to differentiate it clearly from yellow and red.
Referees would have the power to send players to the sin-bin if they commit a cynical foul — such as killing a counter-attack — or show dissent towards match officials. Two blues, or a combination of yellow and blue, would add up to a red.
FA sources indicate it could be trialled in the FA Cup — and other competitions such as the FA Trophy and FA Vase — as soon as next season if they agree with IFAB’s parameters. Premier League insiders on Thursday played down its potential introduction into their competition any time soon, though they will monitor the trial closely.
FIFA released a statement on Thursday night to say that suggestions that the blue card could come in ‘at elite levels of football are incorrect and premature.’ They added: ‘Any such trials, if implemented, should be limited to testing in a responsible manner at lower levels.’
The blue card will be limited to fouls that prevent a promising attack as well as confirming a red card should be shown if they receive two blues or a combination of a blue and yellow
The new protocol will also be limited to instances of dissent towards a match official
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The rugby-style rules would revolutionise the way the game is played, with IFAB citing the shirt pull by Giorgio Chiellini on Bukayo Saka in England’s Euro 2020 final defeat by Italy as being worthy of a 10-minute dismissal. Chiellini received a yellow card.
Sin-bins have been trialled in amateur and youth football and deemed a successful way of dealing with dissent. Pierluigi Collina, chairman sof FIFA’s referees committee, previously said there was a desire to expand the experiment by introducing it at a professional level.
IFAB are in line to give the trial the green light at more senior levels of the game at their next annual general meeting in Scotland next month. Other items on that agenda include trials of ‘cooling-off periods’ after flare-ups between players and only allowing a team’s captain to approach the referee — another rule borrowed from rugby.
Former Premier League referees told Mail Sport on Thursday they would have welcomed being allowed to issue a blue card, insisting the added threat of disciplinary action would deter misbehaving players.
Not everyone in football is in favour of the change, though. In December, Tottenham manager Ange Postecoglou said sin-bins should be ‘binned’, adding: ‘I don’t know why they (IFAB) keep interjecting themselves into the game. There’s not that much wrong with the game.’
Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini ‘s yellow card for fouling Bukayo Saka in the 2020 Euros final has been held up as an example
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has declared he would not allow a trial in the European Championship, Champions League, Europa League or Europa Conference League.
Yet if sin-bins were eventually introduced into the game’s laws following successful trials then Ceferin would have no choice, despite saying last month that ‘it is not football anymore’.
IFAB are trying to tackle the rise in abuse of referees with Collina backing Mail Sport’s campaign to curtail poor participant behaviour, which he described as ‘a cancer that kills football’.