Everything you need to know about FIFA's plan to introduce blue cards

Everything you need to know about FIFA's plan to introduce blue cards

The people in charge of football's rules are keen to trial sin bins and other new measures in a bid to improve player behaviour - especially with regard to how they interact with the referee.

Blue cards and sin bins aren't actually a new idea to football. They have been using a version of the idea in amateur football for a while and reports have been positive.

However, not everyone is excited about the idea of a new card in football - or the idea of sending a player off for a period of time during a game.

Here, SABC Sport goes through all the most important information and notable reactions to the idea of bringing sin bins to football.

Are sin bins coming to football?

The International Football Association Board (IFAB) is set to publish protocols in an effort to improve player behaviour, including trials for a sin-bin, which have been trialled successfully at grassroots level and are now set to be tested higher up the chain.

However, during the initial trial phase, top-level competitions will not be involved. This is to avoid confusion among players – for instance, if their domestic league ran a trial but a continental competition they were involved in at the same time did not.

Is there a new card in football?

We understand referees will be given a new colour of card to be used when a player must go to the sin-bin rather than be cautioned or sent off entirely - blue.

Sin-bins will be used for two specific offences – dissent and tactical fouls that cause a cynical break in play. 

When shown a blue card, the offending player will go to the technical area for 10 minutes. If a player has already been booked, a blue card will mean they are sent off. Two blue cards will also result in dismissal.

What other measures are the IFAB looking at?

As well as sin-bins, competitions will have the option to trial ‘captain only zones’. These are to be used by referees when they feel threatened or intimidated and mean that once the zone has been created, only team captains should enter. 

A further trial is understood to centre on ‘cooling-off’ periods, where a referee sends teams to their penalty areas to calm down after a mass confrontation, for example.

Another trial will look at a new approach to how long goalkeepers can handle the ball, and how play should restart when they hold on too long. 

Currently, goalkeepers can hold on for six seconds and anything over that is supposed to be penalised with an indirect free-kick, but lawmakers are concerned this is not being properly enforced.

Blue card trial plans delayed

IFAB has delayed plans to publish details of sin bin trials at higher levels of football until at least next March.

It is unclear precisely why the IFAB has chosen to delay the publication and which aspects of the protocols remain under discussion.

“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 March 2,” FIFA said in a statement.

Reactions to the idea of blue cards and sin bins

As with any idea that proposes a major shake-up to the status quo, there has already been some significant pushback on the idea of sin bins and blue cards in football.

Tottenham Hotspur manager Ange Postecoglou has gone the furthest with his suggestion that blue cards could "destroy football".

“One team being down to 10 men for 10 minutes, you know what it’s going to do to our game? It’s going to destroy it, mate,” Postecoglou insisted.

“You’re going to have one team just sitting there trying to waste time for 10 minutes waiting for a guy to come on.

“Every other sport is trying to declutter. All we’re trying to do is go the other way for some bizarre reason.”

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp agrees although he was a bit more subdued with his criticism in suggesting it "doesn’t sound like a fantastic idea".

“I think everything that the actual situation shows is that we should keep it as simple as possible, for the referees as well," he said.

“It’s a difficult job, often quite emotional when we speak about it more so because it’s after the game, and I think the introduction of a blue card would just give more opportunities to fail as well because the discussion will be: ‘It was a blue card, should it have been a yellow card, now it’s 10 minutes off, in the good old times it would have been a red card or only a yellow’."

However, it isn't all negative. A referee from grassroots football where the idea of sin bins has been implemented said that, while it was a shock to players initially, the idea has had a positive impact on the game.

“I was a referee when it came in and I think it was a little bit of a shock to the system for some players, but I think they’ve all got used to it at that level now," he said.

“I think we all thought something needed to happen because the level of challenge turning into abuse or confrontation to referees has been on the rise.

“Effectively what you’re doing is cooling a player off for 10 minutes, which takes that confrontation out of the game."

READ MOREFive things we learned from the Africa Cup of Nations