Football considers a blue card for referees

Football: Red, yellow now blue!

Players arguing with a refereeing decision. Credit: MDI/

Over the years, football has seen several significant changes aimed at improving the game’s integrity, fairness and entertainment value, now there is the prospect of a ‘blue card.’

Football’s most recent innovations have included the introduction of the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) and Goal-Line Technology to aid more accurate referee decisions.

The latest development has seen FIFA address the idea of a ‘blue card’ system. This would empower referees with the ability to temporarily exclude players for unsportsmanlike conduct, such as arguing with the referee.

Sin-bin trials on the horizon

The proposal was initially discussed by the International Football Association Board, suggesting a sin-bin system for football.

Under this system, a blue card would mean a player is sidelined for ten minutes for acts of dissent or cynical fouls. The idea is planned to be reviewed at the IFAB Annual General Meeting on March 1.

FIFA ‘blue card’ stance

FIFA has expressed reservations about applying the blue card rule at the top levels of the sport. In a Twitter/X statement, on Thursday, February 8, FIFA clarified the situation: ‘FIFA wishes to clarify that reports of the so-called ‘blue card’ at elite levels of football are incorrect and premature.

‘Any such trials, if implemented, should be limited to testing in a responsible manner at lower levels, a position that FIFA intends to reiterate when this agenda item is discussed at the IFAB AGM on 1 March.’

Fans reaction

Many ardent fans saw red at the idea of a blue card: ‘Why are people obsessed with fixing things that aren’t broken,’ wrote one.

Pedo said: ‘Too many cards in the football pitch? It will spoil the beautiful game of football.’ Another wrote: ‘Dear fifa, is anybody complaining about the yellow and red?? Why fixate on what doesn’t matter.’

Passionate footy fan Riky posted: ‘Don’t you ever, EVER, touch the soul of the sport that has been giving joy and passion to the whole planet; We, the old ones, and the past generations fall in love for the old classic game THAT DONT NEED A F****** SINGLE CHANGE!’

On the flip-side, the idea of a blue card was welcomed: ‘They said the same thing in 1962 when a referee wanted FIFA to create yellow and red cards. And now look at how accepted yellows/reds have become…’

David added: ‘Football is being broken because of dissent towards referees. We’re constantly losing referees in the game because of it. We’re also recruiting less referees because of it!’

Kevin posted: ‘Think this is the major issue in Football. Secondly players diving/rolling every 5 minutes. The only sport you see this. . . You don’t see the boys at basketball or rugby acting like 5 year olds do you?’

Testing grounds

The testing of the new system could commence as soon as this summer. Competitions such as the FA Cup and the Women’s FA Cup are being considered as potential platforms for implementing the blue card.

However, elite competitions like the Premier League and WSL will not be part of the initial trials.

In conclusion, while the blue card system introduces a novel approach to discipline on the football field, its application remains confined to trial phases in less prominent competitions.

FIFA’s cautious stance ensures that any significant changes to the game’s rules undergo thorough evaluation before widespread adoption.

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.