Breakdown of the Yellow and the Red in Soccer

Breakdown of the Yellow and the Red in Soccer

Soccer: Breakdown of the Yellow and the Red


Your child has been growing up with soccer and has gotten to the age where they start issuing yellow and red cards to players. It’s also possible that you are just trying to get into soccer by watching it and you really don't understand why the man in the black uniform is giving out mustard and ketchup cards and waving it around in the players’ faces. Here are a few things you should know about cautioning and ejection.


Yellow Cards

This means that a player is cautioned, which is a way of punishing a player for milder forms of misconduct but still is worse than a foul.


A player can receive a yellow card for any (but not limited to) the following:


  • Guilty of unsporting behavior to the opponent, referee or anyone else involved
  • Has a public display of dissent to the referee through words or actions
  • Commits several fouls—especially to the same player
  • Purposely kills time and delays restarting the play
  • Doesn't go the required distance—especially after being asked when there is a throw-in, free kick or corner kick.
  • Enters or leaves the field without having the ref’s permission
  • Taking their shirt off after scoring

If a player has been given two yellow cards in just one game, then that means that the player should be then issued a red card and will be ejected from the game. Therefore, if the player commits two infringements, each worthy of a yellow card, then the ref must issue the player the two yellows and then follow it with a red.


Red Cards

However, being issued a red card doesn't necessarily have to come from just being issued two yellow cards. A player can receive a straight red card if they are the guilty of the following:


  • Guilty of any serious foul play with the intention to hurt another player—especially if there is violent conduct
  • If the player spits on an opponent, referee or any other person, showing disrespect and dissent
  • Commits a handball foul when the ball was clearly going into goal or going towards a play for an obvious, goal-scoring opportunity
  • Commits a foul that would normally be awarded a PK or free kick when the ball was clearly going into goal or going towards a play for an obvious, goal-scoring opportunity
  • Is offensive, abusive or insulting through languages or gestures during the match


Depending on some tournament rules (and the team rules of your coach), the consequences of yellow and red cards may vary. For example, red cards can result in automatic suspension not only from the game that they're playing in (when a red card is issued to a player, he or she must leave the field immediately and cannot be replaced—the team must play a man-down) but also possibly one to three games afterwards.


Some other tournaments or leagues also recognize consecutive or counted yellow cards. If a player receives too many or two or three in a row, she or he might be suspended from further games.


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