New Rules in Football: Blue Cards to be Introduced, Despite Manager Skepticism

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Football is about to undergo a seismic rule change with the introduction of a blue card and 10-minute sin-bins.

The International Football Association Board (IFAB) has announced that referees will have the power to order players to the sin-bin for acts of dissent against officials and cynical fouls.

A trial could be held in next season’s FA Cup with players warned that two blue-card offences, or a combination of yellow and blue, would add up to a red card and dismissal.

If the trial goes well, we could see the roll-out of the new card into all levels of the game in the future.

We already know that referees can issue a yellow card as a caution to a player for various offences, such as an over-zealous tackle, time-wasting, or dissent.

Blue cards and 10-minute sin-bins for dissent and cynical fouls will be trialled in football

The new punishment would mean a brief numerical disadvantage for the offending team

The new punishment would mean a brief numerical disadvantage for the offending team

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Two yellow cards obviously amount to a red card, which means the player must leave the field. Straight red cards are also issued for especially bad offences.

But we have actually seen other different coloured cards used in football in the past even before the introduction of the new blue one.

THE WHITE CARD

This was part of an initiative launched in Portugal last year to recognise and encourage fair play and was designed to ‘improve ethical value in the sport.’

The aim was to encourage greater sportsmanship and offer an instant recognition of positive actions.

While the former UEFA president Michel Platini had previously called for the introduction of a white card and sin-bin as a punishment for dissent (as is now happening), the Portugal white card was quite different.

The first white card was shown by referee Catarina Campos during a women’s cup game between Sporting Lisbon and Benfica in January 2023.

After someone in the dug-out fell ill, medical staff from both sides quickly went to their aid. Campos showed the white card to those involved, getting a warm reception from the Estadio da Luz crowd.

A white card was introduced in Portugal last year to reward acts of good sportsmanship

A white card was introduced in Portugal last year to reward acts of good sportsmanship

It came after someone in the dugout fell ill, with medical staff from both teams helping them

It came after someone in the dugout fell ill, with medical staff from both teams helping them

The referee brandished it as a recognition of their sportsmanlike conduct during the match

The referee brandished it as a recognition of their sportsmanlike conduct during the match

It was then used again nine months later in a Portuguese men’s fifth division game. A forward was presented with a golden opportunity to score when a defender gave the ball away while injured.

The attacker quickly realised his opponent was hurt and kicked the ball out so they could receive treatment instead of scoring.

The sporting gesture was applauded by the fans in attendance and the referee recognised the good sportsmanship with a white card.

A player was also shown a white card in a Portuguese fifth division game last year after they kicked the ball out of play when through on goal due to a serious injury to an opponent

A player was also shown a white card in a Portuguese fifth division game last year after they kicked the ball out of play when through on goal due to a serious injury to an opponent

 

THE GREEN CARD

We saw the green card introduced at the 2018 CONIFA World Cup – a competition for non-FIFA affiliated international teams – held in London.

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The green card was introduced as a concept by tournament sponsors Paddy Power and when it was issued to a player for dissent or diving, the offender had to be substituted immediately.

The Group C clash between Padania and Tuvalu at Coles Park, Haringey saw referee Raymond Mashamba issue a green card twice in a matter of minutes.

The first was shown to a Tuvalu midfielder and the second to Padania’s Stefano Baldan. The Tuvalu player remained on, however, because all their subs had already been used.

Tournament organiser Paul Watson told Sky Sports at the time: ‘We’d really like to clamp down on the dissent problem. Football has a problem with the lack of respect for referees.

‘That’s not to say that isn’t also the case in CONIFA games – the players in our tournament still have those traits.

Green cards were used at the 2018 CONIFA World Cup in London for dissent or diving

Green cards were used at the 2018 CONIFA World Cup in London for dissent or diving 

Under the rules of the tournament, a player shown the green card had to be substituted

Under the rules of the tournament, a player shown the green card had to be substituted 

‘But it would be nice that, instead of being ignored and therefore in a way condoned, it shouldn’t necessarily cost someone their chance to play at this tournament, if they just lose their cool.’

Premier League referee Mark Clattenburg, who took charge of three games during the tournament, backed the concept.

‘It means players will get dismissed for dissent or diving, forcing their team to substitute them. I think FIFA should follow suit, absolutely. It’ll address two major issues in our game,’ he said.

Italy’s Serie B launched a ‘symbolic’ green card as a positive measure during the 2015-16 season in an effort to promote fair play.

Players could earn one by putting the ball out of play when someone was injured, assisting the referee or admitting to diving in the penalty box.

What is the new blue card? 

The blue card will be the first card added to football’s rules since yellows and reds came in for the 1970 World Cup in Mexico.

Referees would have the power to send players into a sin-bin for 10 minutes if they commit a cynical foul – such as deliberately stopping a counter-attack – or if they show dissent towards match officials.

Two blue cards, or a combination of yellow and blue, would add up to a red card, according to proposals drawn up by the game’s rule-makers IFAB.

Football Association sources have indicated the blue card could be trialled next season in the FA Cup, FA Trophy and FA Vase if they agree with IFAB’s proposals.

But Premier League insiders played down the potential introduction of the blue card into their competition anytime soon – though they would monitor the trials.

FIFA also released a statement saying suggestions the blue card could come in at elite levels were ‘incorrect and premature’.

Sin-bins have been trialled already in amateur and youth football and deemed to be a successful deterrent to dissent and cynical fouls.

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