What is blue cards in soccer? Explaining IFAB’s sin-bin trial approval

Sin-bins have been utilized in non-professional football leagues and grassroots competitions for a while. IFAB is set to announce the introduction of blue cards and sin-bins later on Friday.

The decision to incorporate blue cards and sin-bins comes at a time when football lawmakers and referees face criticism for the inadequate regulation of the game, particularly with the use of VAR.

Blue cards for sin-bins in soccer under IFAB trials

Sin-bins have been a part of amateur and lower-league football for a while now in England and Wales, but referees have been using yellow, rather than blue, cards. However, it is now set to be introduced into the higher leagues and soon, at the elite level.

In a 90-minute game, players found guilty of dissent are sin-binned for ten minutes. The player must then leave the field and observe the game from the touchlines for the next ten minutes. After the expiration of this period, the player can be waved back onto the field of play by the referee during the game, similar to a player who has been temporarily taken off due to injury.

Blue Cards
Blue Cards at the elite level will be used to safeguard referees as well (via GOAL).

A second temporary dismissal in a match result in the offending player being dismissed for a further 10 minutes, after which they may not re-join the match, but can be substituted if the team has substitutions remaining.

The rule remains the same for goalkeepers, as the guide says: “Like when a goalkeeper is sent off, any other player must go in goal, but the team must remain with 10 players. Upon returning, if during play, the goalkeeper can become an outfield player, and then return to being the goalkeeper during the next stoppage in play.”

In the professional game, blue cards will be introduced to curb “tactical fouls,” time wasting, cynical fouls, and dissent. Two blue cards, similar to current yellows, will result in a red card, while a combination of blue and yellow will also lead to dismissal.

Blue Cards
Chiellini’s foul on Saka in the Euros 2020 has been used by the IFAB to describe “tactical fouls” (via The Athletic).

The blue cards, regardless of their novelty, will form part of the trial involving sin bins and aims to give greater protection to referees and could be tested by the Football Association (FA) in next year’s men’s and women’s FA Cups. IFAB is set to green light the trial at more senior levels of the game at their next annual general meeting in Loch Lomond, Scotland, on March 2.

Blue cards in soccer have outraged soccer fans

Without a doubt, the introduction of blue cards in soccer has not been well-received by the fans. Many are outraged at the introduction of blue cards, believing that the reasons for their introduction are already adequately covered by yellow cards. Many have expressed their dissent on X (formerly Twitter).

England National Team manager, Gareth Southgate, has also spoken on the decision of introducing blue cards at the upper echelons of football.

Not only fans, players, and managers, but major football establishments have also spoken out against the introduction of blue cards. The Premier League has stated that they will not incorporate blue cards into the league, and FIFA, football’s governing body, has deemed the addition of blue cards to the game as “incorrect and premature.”

Are you for or against the decision to add blue cards at the top level of football? Let us know in the comments below!


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