Proposed Blue Cards Would Send Soccer Players to the “Sin Bin”

FIFA doesn’t seem so hot on the idea, but grassroots Football Association players who trialed “sin bins” actually appreciated the change.

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Feb. 12 2024, Published 2:48 p.m. ET

Giorgio Chielli and Bukayo Saka at the UEFA Euro 2020 final
Source: Getty Images

A blue card in soccer would provide another disciplinary measure for unruly players, but the International Football Association Board (IFAB) reportedly backtracked on plans to introduce the new card color on Friday, Feb. 9, 2024.

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The IFAB — which determines the so-called Laws of the Game in soccer, or association football, as it’s more formally known — was expected to announce blue-card trials on Friday. Instead, the organization postponed the announcement amid outcry about the idea, according to The Times.

Blue cards in soccer would mean a 10-minute time-out for the offending player.

Blue cards — which would be the first new cards added to association football since the introduction of red and yellow cards at the 1970 World Cup — would temporarily remove a player from a match and sequester them in a “sin bin” for 10 minutes, according to The Telegraph.

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Italy's Giorgio Chielli pulls the shirt of England's Bukayo Saka at the UEFA Euro 2020 final
Source: Getty Images

A player would get a blue card for committing a cynical foul — preventing a promising attack, in other words — or showing dissent toward a match official. If a player receives two blue cards or one blue card and one yellow card during a match, then they’ll get a red card.

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Under this proposed protocol, Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini would have gotten a blue card instead of a yellow card for pulling on the shirt of England’s Bukayo Saka shirt in the UEFA Euro 2020 final (as seen above), according to The Times.

But backlash from football fans, managers, and pundits spurred IFAB to delay the trial, The Times reports. Sources told the newspaper that the blue card issue has been punted to the 2024 IFAB Annual General Meeting (AGM), set to take place on March 2 in Loch Lomond, Scotland.

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FIFA has said that testing of blue cards should be limited to lower levels.

The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) — which is association football’s international governing body — was expected to block blue-card trials in its matches. And the organization asserted that position in an Twitter post on Thursday, February 8.

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“FIFA wishes to clarify that reports of the so-called ‘blue card’ at elite levels of football are incorrect and premature,” the post reads. “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 2 March.”

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Most players in the FA’s sin-bin trials approve of the changes.

Sin bins have been in use as a punishment for dissent in grassroots football of England’s Football Association (FA) since the 2019–2020 season, and FA statistics show the trials resulted in a 38 percent drop in dissent across the leagues, according to The Athletic. Those stats also show that 72 percent of players, 77 percent of managers, and 84 percent of referees want to keep using the sin bins.

Now sin bins might be coming to the FA Cup or the Women’s Super League, per The Atlantic.

“The areas we’re looking at [are] dissent and tactical fouls,” FA chief executive Mark Bullingham said, the site reports. “There is real frustration with fans when they see a counter-attack that is ruined by that and whether a yellow card is sufficient for that. … The success of sin bins in the grassroots game has been prevention rather than cure. You get to a point where players know about the threat of sin bins so they don’t transgress.”

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