Yellow and red cards in football, history and regulations


Let’s take a quick look back at how red and yellow cards in football came to be before we go deeper into them and what they symbolize. Players can be caution card and reprimanded in one of three ways in the current political correctness and game climate: they can be given a Yellow Card or a Red Card, or they can be suspended for a set number of games.

History and use of cards for discipline and cautioning

Sir Kenneth George Aston was the one who came up with the red and yellow cards. According to legend, the innovation was inspired by brothers Jack and Bobby Charlton, who had to contact the FA to inquire if they had recently received a caution from the referee.

The penalty cards in football was conceived as Aston sat in his automobile at a set of traffic lights and observed the sequence of light changes. It would clearly indicate a violation, and no one, not even the athlete, would be in any question as to what had happened.


However, there are other reasons why people remember Ken Aston as well. He officiated what many consider to be the dirtiest football game ever. The contest that earned the name “the Battle of Santiago

When Chile and Italy faced off in the 1962 World Cup, it happened. It must have planted the seeds for the creation of the red and yellow cards, which were first used in the FIFA World Cup 1970.

Why are needed yellow and red cards in football?

The opening match of the 1962 World Cup, between Switzerland and Chile, was officiated by an Englishman by the name of Ken Aston. He performed so well that FIFA requested him to also referee a match between Chile and Italy, which everyone anticipated would be a heated contest.

They were accurate; on three separate times, Aston needed the assistance of armed forces to officiate the game, prompting him to subsequently remark, “I wasn’t reffing a football match, I was working as an umpire in military operations.”

Giorgio Ferrini, an Italian player who was playing in the match, was ejected by him, but due to a language barrier, he was unable to understand what was being said.

Even when Aston retired in 1963, he was still troubled by that episode. He was asked to join the FIFA Referees’ Committee, and as a result, he oversaw the officials at the 1966 World Cup. He had to calm down Rattn, Argentina’s captain after he was sent off during an Argentina vs. England game in that championship.

But it was the news story that appeared in the newspapers the next day that caused him to think back to the communication problems he’d experienced four years earlier. Even though the match referee didn’t openly say so, reports stated that he had warned both Bobby and Jack Charlton. 

Alf Ramsey contacted FIFA for clarity on the matter as a result, and Aston contemplated ways to make everything more understandable for everyone.

The Englishman’s lightbulb moment occurred as he was traveling down a road in London. The traffic signal turned red as he was driving down Kensington High Street, he later said. “Yellow, ease up; red, stop; you’re off,” I thought. Before becoming a referee, Aston worked as a teacher, so he was well aware of the value of talking with the people you’re trying to govern.

He presented his suggestion to FIFA, and it was decided to test the usage of yellow and red cards for the 1970 World Cup in Mexico. 

Despite their perceived popularity during the competition, they weren’t at first formally incorporated into the Rules of the Game and were progressively introduced to European leagues in the seasons that followed. They didn’t arrive on English soil until 1976 and weren’t very well-liked at first.

When are they used?


Yellow card:

In essence, there are six potential offenses that can result in a player being given a yellow card. As follows:

  • Unsportsmanlike conduct
  • Dissension in speech or conduct
  • Repeated disregard for the law
  • Postponing the game’s resumption
  • Keeping the wrong distance after a corner or free kick.
  • Entering or exiting the playing field without the referee’s consent.


Red card

If a player engages in any of the following offenses, they are given a red card:

  • Is guilty of serious foul play
  • Is committing violent conduct
  • Spits on a rival or any other individual
  • Denies the opposing team a goal or a clear-cut opportunity to score by purposefully handling the ball.
  • Denies an opponent advancing towards the player’s goal an evident opportunity to score by committing an offense that is punished by a free kick or penalty kick.
  • Utilizes gestures or harsh, derogatory, or abusive language
  • Gets a second caution in the same game


Penalty for yellow and red cards in football

Yellow card

Caution players who receive a yellow card is ineligible to play for the remainder of the quarter, excepting breaks, however, they may be replaced. A yellow card may still be given to a player even when they did not commit a reportable offense, at the umpire’s discretion.

According to the rules in effect for this season, players who receive a predetermined amount of yellow cards will be subject to match suspensions as a form of punishment. It operates under the following tenets:

  • Before match week 19, players who receive five yellow cards are suspended for one match.
  • By week 32, ten yellow cards will result in a two-match suspension.
  • A three-match ban follows fifteen yellow cards by week 38.
  • The Regulatory Commission may punish a player for receiving 20 yellow cards in a season however they see proper.


Red card

A referee will display a red card to a player to indicate dismissal from the field of play. A player who has been dismissed from the game must leave the field of play immediately and may not rejoin it. 

A player who has been dismissed from the game cannot be replaced while it is still in progress; instead, their team must continue with one fewer player. Red cards can only be given to players, substitutes, substituted players, and coaches. 

If a goalkeeper is sent off, another player must take over as the goalkeeper (so teams will usually substitute an outfield player for another goalkeeper if this option is available).

Above are some rules of the red and yellow cards in football. Football discipline is a significant component of the game, but it’s not just physical fouls that result in disciplinary action.

Watch more: Who Has The Most Yellow Cards In Football History?

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