Football to trial blue cards for 10-minute sin bins


A new ‘blue card’ will be introduced as part of the 10-minute sin bin trials in football.

The International Football Association Board (IFAB) will publish the detailed protocols on Friday as football tries to clamp down on abuse towards match officials and cynical fouls.

The blue cards 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.

The Athletic understands, however, that they will not be brought in for next season’s Premier League.


What do you think about football introducing blue cards and sin bins?

Sin bins for dissent are already in place across amateur and youth football in England and Wales but referees have been using yellow, rather than blue, cards. IFAB first agreed in November to test it higher up the football pyramid.

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.

Other items on that agenda include trials of ‘cooling-off periods’ after flare ups between players, punishing time-wasting goalkeepers by awarding a corner kick and only allowing a team’s captain to approach the referee.

IFAB is made up of the four UK associations, which have one vote each, and FIFA, which has four.

Any decision requires at least six votes to be passed.



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On Thursday, FIFA reiterated that while the issue will be discussed at the IFAB AGM in March, there was no immediate plans to introduce it into elite football.

“FIFA wishes to clarify that reports of the so-called ‘blue card’ at elite levels of football are incorrect and premature,” football’s international governing body said in a statement.

“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.”

Chiellini’s foul on Saka has been used as an example of tactical fouls (LAURENCE GRIFFITHS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Sin bins – how do they work in grassroots football?

By Adam Leventhal

The FA introduced sin bins as a punishment for dissent to all levels of grassroots football in the 2019-20 season, following a pilot in 31 leagues during the previous two terms. According to FA figures, those trials resulted in a 38 per cent reduction in dissent across the leagues, with 72 per cent of players, 77 per cent of managers and 84 per cent of referees wanting to continue with the change.

How does it all work?

Sin bins are indicated by the referee showing a yellow card and pointing with both arms to the sidelines.

In a 90-minute game, players guilty of dissent were sin-binned for 10 minutes — and for eight minutes in shorter games.

There is no physical sin bin; the player must either go to their team’s technical area, or leave the pitch and watch from the touchline with other non-playing staff.

Just like a player who has left the field for injury treatment, a player can be waved back onto the field of play by the referee during play.

A second temporary dismissal in a match results 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 FA’s grassroots guide to sin bins states that goalkeepers are covered under the same law as other players and can be sin-binned. 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.”



Blue cards plan: Did sin bins work in trials? Would they succeed at the top level?

(Oli Scarff/AFP via Getty Images)


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