Blue cards put on hold

Why lawmakers rightfully pressed pause on 'sin bin' trials 🔵

Imagine the scenes when this inevitably happens in stoppage time of a title-deciding game

Hear that? That’s the sound of Rodri breathing a massive sigh of relief. 😮‍💨 

The International Football Association Board (IFAB) – the governing body that determines the Laws of the Game – announced on Friday the decision to postpone the introduction of a new blue card as part of ten-minute ‘sin bin’ trials.

Reports emerged on Thursday that the IFAB would would announce new protocols designed to improve player behavior and increase respect for officials, which triggered worldwide panic that caused the trials to be postponed.

Fans and Premier League managers alike voiced their concerns over the revolutionary changes, which will be reevaluated at the IFAB’s annual meeting in March.

What are sin bins, anyways?

A term hockey fans know all too well, ‘sin bins’ are where a player receives a blue card and temporarily leaves the pitch for ten minutes but can later return to action.

  • Sin bins were successfully implemented in lower levels of soccer in 2019-20.

  • They are intended to penalize players who show dissent towards an official or commit a cynical foul, such as deliberately stopping a promising attack (Giorgio Chiellini RKOing Bukayo Saka comes to mind).

If blue cards were in place in 2020, Chiellini would have likely sat out for the first ten minutes of extra time in the Euro final against England

In other words, blue cards are intended to punish transgressions at the more serious end of the spectrum when it comes to yellow cards but not serious enough to warrant a straight red.

“This is not a good idea”

Mauricio Pochettino and other Premier League managers made it clear how they felt about the proposed changes, questioning whether the sport is ready for blue cards and if they’d even make a difference.

“The introduction of a new card would just give more opportunities to fail because the discussion then would be, ‘Should it have been a blue card, or a yellow card?’

Jürgen Klopp

Fans weren’t happy either. Critics pointed out that cynical fouls and dissent are already punishable offenses today, and the changes would just add another subjective decision for officials to make.

Even with technology like VAR, the current Laws of the Game already leave enough room for interpretation. The implementation of blue cards would only further embroil referees in disagreements surrounding subjective rulings, and could ultimately add fuel to the fire for a growing populous of fans fed up with inconsistent decisions.

Zoom out: Even if the IFAB approves the proposal at next month’s annual meeting, it would be years before we see blue cards at the top level. If approved, lower leagues in Wales are set to trial the rule changes first, with the Premier League not adopting any until 2026-27 at the earliest. 👀