Football Prepares to Test Blue Card for Penalizing Players

FIFA has responded to proposals to hand referees blue cards in a move that would allow match officials to sin-bin mouthy players

side linesman on a football match

For many decades, tradition has ruled the football community. This comes from over 160 years of football players playing by the same basic rules that were codified by England's Football Association (FA) in 1863.

While tradition is often viewed as a good thing, there are circumstances that call for rule changes that can make football safer and more exciting. A new rule is slated to be tested by the International Football Association Board (IFAB) over the coming months. This rule change will challenge traditionalists who have learned to rely on constants like having access to online casinos with no deposit bonus offers and promotions.

Introducing Blue Cards and Sin Bins

As top international football players gain wealth and power over the game, they tend to act more entitled. This has led to a recent rash of violent actions perpetrated by players against other players and most alarmingly against referees.

Sensing the problem is getting out of hand, the IFAB has decided it's time to create a punishment that will fit the crimes of referee abuse and cynical or intentionally violent fouls. Introducing the blue card and the sin bin concept.

Currently, the most common penalty cards that referees have at their disposal are the yellow and red cards. The yellow card is presented against players as a caution that further bad conduct will not be accepted. When the red card is presented, it typically ends in the ejection of the player from the match in progress and a possible suspension from future matches.

The concept of the sin bins has already been tested at the amateur level in England. However, the pilots have centered around yellow card penalties. Given the positive input that has come from the lower levels, the IFAB, in conjunction with the FA, is preparing to introduce both blue cards and sin bins at the senior league level.

About the Blue Card

It would appear that the blue card concept evolved from U.S. indoor soccer leagues. When presented with a blue card by a referee, the player is sent to a penalty box where they must remain for a stated period. Though blue cards are not used, this would be the same penalty box concept that is currently used in ice hockey leagues all over the world.

The introduction of the blue card represents the first new card put in a referee's penalty arsenal since the early 1970s. Based on the IFAB's proposal, blue cards will be presented for serious infractions. That would include the verbal abuse of a referee or official (dissent) and the perpetration of an intentionally violent act against another player. It is presumed that blue card violations would fall somewhere between yellow card cautions and red card ejections.

Like the yellow card, the blue card would be a warning card that certain behaviors will not be tolerated on the pitch. Where the yellow and blue cards differ is yellow cards do not result in the removal from the game. It simply serves as a warning that further infractions could result in the presentation of a red card.

Conversely, the presentation of a blue card is intended to coincide with removal from the game for 10 minutes. As the new rules stand now, those 10 minutes would be spent in a "sin bin." More on that below. Of course, a second card whether yellow or blue would likely lead to game ejection with a red card.

About the Sin Bin Concept

In hockey, banished players are required to sit isolated in a physical box penalty for the duration of their penalty time. In reality, there is no actual sin bin in football. It's more of a conceptual thing. If a player is presented with a sin-bin violation, they will have to spend the next 10 game minutes in either their team's technical area or in a designated area that is removed from the rest of the team.

When Will the Blue Card and Sin Bin Pilot Start?

It's noteworthy that both players and referees have responded positively to the blue card and sin bin concepts. From a prior pilot program used in 2019-2020, there was a 38% reduction in dissent penalties. Furthermore, the trial received high marks from 72% of the players and 84% of the referees. Even 77% of the team managers approved of the program.

Despite all of this positivity, it would seem that FIFA (international football's ruling body) is not sold on the concept. While the FA is proposing to test the concept during the 2024-25 FA Cup and Women's FA Cup events, FIFA wants more testing done at the lower levels before they approve the concept for future FIFA events, including The World Cup in 2026.

For now, further discussion is slated to be held at an FA meeting on March 2, 2024. At that time, the soccer world should get a better idea of where the blue card and sin bin concepts will be headed in the future.

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