Soccer is set to introduce a groundbreaking change with the introduction of the blue card as part of new sin-bin trials, a move approved by the International Football Association Board (Ifab). This marks the first addition to the card system since the establishment of yellow and red cards at the 1970 World Cup. Under the sin-bin protocols, players will be temporarily removed from the field for 10 minutes following cynical fouls or dissent towards match officials.
Initially proposed by the Football Association of Wales for grassroots competitions, the blue card was intended to clearly differentiate itself from yellow and red cards. However, clearance for its use was not obtained, resulting in players being shown a yellow card instead when sent to the sin-bin.
The new protocol limits the blue card to fouls impeding promising attacks or displaying dissent, with a player receiving a red card if they accumulate two blue cards or a combination of yellow and blue during a match. While top-tier competitions will not immediately implement sin-bin trials, elite testing may commence as early as the summer, potentially including the FA Cup and Women’s FA Cup.
Despite opposition from Uefa President Aleksander Ceferin, who deemed sin-bins as incompatible with football, trials could lead to their integration into the laws of the game. Ifab, which includes FA chief executive Mark Bullingham, emphasized the urgency of addressing player behavior issues, referring to dissent as a potential “cancer” affecting football. Sin-bins aim to curb such behavior, along with fouls hindering promising attacks but falling short of warranting a red card, exemplified by incidents like Giorgio Chiellini’s shirt-pull on Bukayo Saka during Euro 2020.