Penalty cards are used in many sports as a means of warning, reprimanding or penalising a player, coach or team official. Penalty cards are most commonly used by referees or umpires to indicate that a player has committed an offence. The official will hold the card above their head while looking or pointing towards the player that has committed the offence. This action makes the decision clear to all players, as well as spectators and other officials in a manner that is language-neutral. The colour or shape of the card used by the official indicates the type or seriousness of the offence and the level of punishment that is to be applied. Yellow and red cards are the most common, typically indicating, respectively, cautions and dismissals.
The idea of using language-neutral coloured cards to communicate a referee's intentions originated in association football, with English referee Ken Aston. Aston had been appointed to the FIFA Referees' Committee and was responsible for all referees at the 1966 FIFA World Cup. In the quarter-finals, England played Argentina at Wembley Stadium. After the match, newspaper reports stated that referee Rudolf Kreitlein had cautioned Englishmen Bobby and Jack Charlton, as well as sending off Argentinian Antonio Rattín. The referee had not made his decision clear during the game, so England manager Alf Ramsey approached a FIFA representative for post-match clarification. This incident started Aston thinking about ways to make a referee's decisions clearer to both players and spectators. Aston realised that a colour-coding scheme based on the same principle as used on traffic lights (yellow – stop if safe to do so, red – stop) would transcend language barriers and make it clear that a player had been cautioned or expelled. As a result, yellow cards to indicate a caution and red cards to indicate an expulsion were used for the first time in the 1970 FIFA World Cup in Mexico. The use of penalty cards has since been adopted and expanded by several sporting codes, with each sport adapting the idea to its specific set of rules or laws.
A yellow card is used in many different sporting codes. Its meaning differs among sports; however, it most commonly indicates a caution given to a player regarding his or her conduct, or indicates a temporary suspension. Examples include:
A red card is used in several different sporting codes. Its meaning differs among sports, but it most commonly indicates a serious offence and often results in a player being permanently suspended from the game (commonly known as an ejection, dismissal, expulsion, removal, or sending-off, often with personal embarrassment). In many sports the ejected player's team cannot replace them and thus must continue the rest of the game with one fewer player, which may be a significant disadvantage. Examples include:
In association football, a red card is shown by a referee to signify that a player has been sent off. A player who has been sent off is required to leave the field of play immediately and must take no further part in the game. The player who has been sent off cannot be replaced during the game; their team must continue the game with one player fewer. Only players, substitutes, substituted players and coaches may receive a red card. If a goalkeeper receives a red card another player will be allowed to assume goalkeeping duties (teams will usually substitute an outfield player for another goalkeeper if this option is available). A red card will be shown to a player who has committed a serious offense such as violent conduct or an illegal and purposeful obstruction of a goal scoring opportunity for the opposing team. A red card will also be shown to a player who accumulates two yellow cards for more minor offenses.
A red card in Athletics indicates that the athlete is disqualified after receiving two yellow cards. A diagonal red/black card is issued if a false start has been made.
In Australian rules football, a red card is issued against a player who has accumulated two yellow cards over the course of a match, or has committed a 'serious reportable offence' (such as striking an umpire or kicking an opponent). A player issued with a red card may not participate for the remainder of the match; however, unlike most sports, the player can be replaced, although not until a length of time equivalent to one-quarter (excluding breaks) has elapsed. Yellow cards and red cards are, however, not issued in the Australian Football League, the highest level of play in Australian rules football.
In Badminton, a red card is given to a singles player or doubles pair to penalize subsequent infractions after receiving a yellow card. It counts as fault, meaning the opposing side is awarded a point. After a second red card, a player or pair may be disqualified with a black card at the tournament referee's discretion.
A red card in Bandy indicates a match penalty, i.e. a player has been excluded for the remainder of the match and cannot be substituted. Red card offenses include directly attacking an opponent or using abusive language. A coach or substitute may also be penalized with a red card. In this situation, a player currently on the rink also serves a ten-minute penalty, resulting in the number of players being reduced by one.
A red card in canoe polo indicates a player has been sent off for the remainder of the match and cannot be substituted. A red card can be awarded if a personal attack on a player occurs, repeated foul or abusive language, or when the award of a yellow card is disputed or has not had the desired effect of causing the player to control his play or attitude. A red card is also awarded when a player has received a second yellow card for any reason.
In December 2016, it was announced that by October 2017 cricket umpires would be given the power to issue red cards to send off players who have committed the following: “threatening an umpire; physically assaulting another player, umpire, official or spectator; or any other act of violence”.
In Fencing, a red card is used to indicate that a fencer has committed an offence that warrants a penalty hit to be awarded to the opponent. Second and subsequent Group 1 offences, all Group 2 offences and first Group 3 offences are penalised with a red card. A red card may also be awarded when, at the second call by the referee, a fencer does not present himself on the piste ready to fence.
A red card in field hockey results in a player being permanently suspended from the game. The player cannot take any further part in the game and cannot be substituted. Unlike other penalty cards in field hockey, the red card is never given to the captain for team misconduct. In addition to their colour, red cards in field hockey are often circular in shape.
In floorball, a red card is results in the player being ejected from the game and his/her team being penalised with a 5-minute bench penalty. In floorball, the red card can be linked with 3 different types of Match Penalties (MP 1, 2 and 3). MP1 is linked with violent play during the game, such as heavy hits (pushing) against the goal-cage or boarding; this penalty does not cause additional suspension in the tournament. MP2 is linked with offences such as sabotage of the game, mild brawl (no punches), and is also given when a player receives his/her second 5-minute bench penalty; this match penalty causes an automatic 1-game suspension. MP3 is linked with vulgar conduct, such as insulting the referee, another player or spectators, violent conduct that is not directly linked with play (such as punching an opponent); this match penalty causes an automatic 1-game suspension, and is further reviewed by a disciplinary committee that can penalise the player with additional suspension.
In camogie, Gaelic football, hurling and ladies' Gaelic football a red card (Irish: cárta dearg) is given to players for serious fouls and violent conduct. A player who receives two yellow cards in a single game is sent off and receives a red card. Red and yellow cards were introduced to Gaelic games following an incident during the 1995 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final when the referee sent Charlie Redmond from the field of play but he refused to leave.
A red card in handball indicates a disqualification of a player who has committed an offense such as unsportsmanlike conduct, serious foul play, or receiving a third two-minute suspension. A red card prevents a player from playing for the remainder of the match and as a result reduces the number of players that are available to a team. A red card also carries a two-minute suspension for the team, meaning that a team cannot replace the disqualified player until the two-minute team suspension has expired.
In Quidditch a red card results in a player being ejected from the game. In addition, a substitute must go to the penalty box for two minutes. The entire two minutes must be served, regardless of any scores by the opposing team during that time. The player's team must play a player down while the substitute is in the penalty box.
In racewalking, a red card indicates that a competitor's foot failed to be on the ground when the rear leg is being raised or that his front leg is not straightened when it makes contact with the ground. A judge would issue a yellow card for the first infraction committed by a competitor. And if the same judge detects the second infraction from the same competitor, a red card is issued. Three red cards, from three different judges, will result in a competitor's disqualification.
In water polo, a red card is issued to a coach, player, or team official on the bench for a second incident of misconduct after receiving a yellow card or severe unsporting conduct. A person receiving a red card must leave the competition area.
Under ITTF regulations, if after a warning the player misbehaves again, the umpire will show him or her a yellow card and a red card together and award one point to the opponent for the second offence and two for the third one. In case a player commits a serious offence or continues to misbehave after 3 points are awarded to the opponent for misbehavior, the umpire will suspend play and report to the referee, who has the power to disqualify the player from the match, showing a red card. The umpire can show a red card to an authorised advisor and ask them to leave the playing area if they give illegal advice after a warning had been given.
A green card is used in some sports to indicate an official warning to a player who has committed a minor offence that does not warrant a more serious sanction.
A white card is used in bandy to indicate a five-minute timed penalty given to a player. The offending player must leave the playing area and wait on a penalty bench near the centre line until the penalty has expired. During the 5 minute period the player may not be replaced, although he or she may be replaced with a different player when the penalty has expired. Offences that can warrant a white card include trying to hinder the opponents from executing a free-stroke, illegal substitution or repeated illegal but non-violent attacks on an opponent.
In the 2012 Super Rugby season in rugby union, a White Card was introduced for incidents of suspected foul play where the referee is unsure of the identity of the perpetrator, or where the referee is unsure if a red card is warranted. The incident is later referred to the citing commissioner, and may result in a suspension for the offending player. It is similar to a citation sign (arms crossed above the head) in rugby league. However, in 2013 the International Rugby Board, now known as World Rugby, extended the powers of the TMO to include reviewing suspected incidents of foul play. As a result, no white cards were issued in 2013.
A blue card or 'blue disk' as pioneered by The Elms, is used in bandy to indicate a ten-minute timed penalty given to a player. The offending player must leave the playing area and wait on a penalty bench near the centre line until the penalty has expired. During the 10 minute period the player may not be replaced, although he or she may be replaced with a different player when the penalty has expired. A blue card is typically shown for offences that are more serious than those warranting a white card including attacking an opponent in a violent or dangerous way, causing advantage by intentionally stopping the ball with a high stick or protesting a referee's decision.
A blue card is also frequently used in indoor soccer in the United States, signifying that the offender must leave the field and stay in a penalty box (usually 2–5 minutes), during which time their team plays down a man (identical to ice hockey and roller hockey). If a goal is scored by the team opposite of the offender, then the offender may return to the field immediately. It is also used in the Clericus Cup association football league for a 5-minute bench penalty for unsportsmanlike play. And it is also used in the beach soccer for a 2-minute bench penalty for unsportsmanlike play.
A blue card is also used in quidditch to indicate a technical foul. The fouling player is sent to the penalty box for one minute or until a goal is scored against the fouling player's team. Unlike a yellow card, there is no additional penalty for multiple blue cards.
The blue card has been in use in Handball since the International Handball Federation announced a rule change that came into effect on July 1, 2016. First the Red Card is shown, then the referee will after a short discussion show the blue card. Following that a written report will accompany the score sheet and the Disciplinary Commission will then decide on further actions against the player.
A black card is used in fencing. It is issued by the director, or the referee for severe rule infractions. A second instance of a Group 3 offence, and all Group 4 offences including deliberate brutality, refusal to fence, refusal to salute, and refusal to shake hands can be punished with a black card. When the black card is issued, the offending fencer is excluded from the remainder of the competition and may be suspended from further tournaments. In the official record of the tournament, his or her name is replaced with the words "FENCER EXCLUDED".
A black card is also used in the sport of badminton to indicate disqualification.
In the Gaelic Games of Gaelic football and hurling, a tick or black book – was formerly recorded against a player for a minor infringement not warranting a yellow card, though multiple bookings will result in the issuance of a yellow card. The act of the referee physically holding up his black notebook in the same manner as a card has been discontinued by the GAA.
Beginning January 1, 2014 a player in Gaelic football can be ordered off the pitch for the remainder of the game with a substitution allowed by being physically shown a Black Card (the referee's black notebook) in the same manner as any other penalty card for "cynical behaviour," including blatant tripping, pulling down and bodychecking. This forced substitution is an intermediate punishment between the yellow and red cards. A player who receives a yellow card and a black card in the same game is sent off without any substitute being permitted.
As of January 2020, a player who receives a black card is ejected from the field to the Sin Bin for a period of ten minutes. The player may return to the field after this period has elapsed, during a break in play with the permission of the referee. If a match extends into extra time and the player has not been in the Sin Bin for ten minutes, they must serve any remaining time before rejoining play. As in previous years, a player who receives both a yellow card and a black card or two black cards is then shown a red card and ejected for the remainder of the match and cannot be replaced.
There's echoes of Dublin's Charlie Redmond in the 1995 All-Ireland football final, who was sent off in the second half against Tyrone by referee Paddy Russell, but stayed on the field. Only minutes later did Russell realise and send him from the field. The Dubs went on to lift Sam Maguire and it led the GAA to introduce yellow and red cards.
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