Sports 101: Yellow Card and Red Card (Explained)


Penalty cards are commonly used by referees in soccer as means of giving a warning or penalizing a player. The card color raises depends on the gravity of the offence or misconduct the player committed. In a soccer game there are yellow and red penalty card. So how will you know if a player is guilty of the penalty?

On today’s post, we will explain the meaning of yellow and red card penalties.

Yellow Card

The yellow card is a warning given to a player who commits a serious offence or misconduct. The officials raise the card and then record it to a notebook also known as booking. A player who receives this penalty may continue to play until that player commits another second yellow card, red card will be shown and the player is removed from the game.

Offences that deserve to the awarding of the yellow card

  • Unsporting behavior – This occurs when a player tries to deceive the referees and violates the soccer’s accepted rules of sportsmanship. Examples are faking an injury or flopping “diving”, saying words or gestures that intentionally distract the opponent or even taking off the jersey while the game is going.
  • Dissent by word or action – any actions or words showing protest, confrontation or any aggressive action towards the referee can be considered an offence. The players can contest a call but the referee has every right to stand on what he sees or what he called during the game.
  • Persistent infringement of the Law of the Game – Violations are unavoidable in a soccer match. If a player continuously making fouls or violations then the player will be awarded a yellow card by the referee.
  • Failure to respect the required distance when play is restarted with a corner kick, free kick or throw-in – Defenders should stay at least with a distance of 9.15 meters from the ball. Not doing so in frequent referee’s warning then a yellow card is awarded.
  • Entering or re-entering the field of play without the referee’s permission and deliberately leaving the field of play without the referee’s permission – These rulings are self explanatory. The referee is the gate pass of a player to leave, enter or re- enters the field not doing so yellow card will be awarded. Players should notify the rep in order to get the permission when in a game.
  • Delaying the restart of play – Any intentional acts that are purposely wasting the game time can warrant a yellow card. Example: A team that has 1-0 lead intentionally waste time inbounding the ball with just 4 minutes to play; the player who is obviously committing time wasting can be yellow carded due to that instance.

Red Card

A player committing two yellow cards is rewarded a red penalty card and thrown out of the field. A player with a red card may not be substituted during the match so for the rest of the game the team is handicapped.

Offences that deserve to the awarding of the red card

  • Serious foul plays – Any act that is intend to injure an opponent when challenging for the ball.
  • Violent conduct – If a player is guilty of aggression against the opponent/s, official or even the audiences.
  • Spitting at an opponent or any other person – An act of disrespect to others not acceptable in any moral issues.
  • Denying the opposing team a goal – An intentionally touching the ball not to make a goal. Goal keeper is exempted by the rule.
  • Using any offensive, profanity words or gestures.
  • Fouling an opponent to prevent an obvious goal score opportunity – Like deliberately holding the player to stop the kick for goal.
  • Awarded a second yellow card.

Game Penalties

Referees can hand yellow or red cards as soon as the violation was made or committed. When the offense is on the run, there are occasions that the referee won’t stop the game and will let the offensive team continue its flow – it’s called “Advantage rule” in soccer or football. The referee will just hand a card or a warning after the current offensive set stopped.

After the violation, a direct free kick can awarded to the team who got fouled – the offensive team will kick it from the spot where the foul was committed. While a penalty kick can be awarded when a player gets fouled inside the box (penalty area) as long as the ball is in play.

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