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International Football Association to introduce “blue cards” next season.

The FA Cup will (supposedly) become the testing ground for the blue card starting next season.

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Handball referees Geipel and Helbig go to Olympics for 2nd time Photo by Jan Woitas/picture alliance via Getty Images

The International Football Association Board (IFAB) is expected to introduce a new disciplinary measure in the form of a “blue card,” according to reports from multiple reputed sources such as The Guardian and The Athletic.

The new card aims to address specific player offenses during a match, such as dissent towards the referee, flopping, or committing cynical fouls that disrupt attacking plays by the opposition.

As things stand in the preliminary stages of creating this blue card and the rules it will be accompanied with, players penalized with such a card will be temporarily removed from the field for 10 minutes, a sanction referred to as the “sin bin.”

The blue card system is designed to complement the existing yellow and red cards, offering a middle ground for offenses that affect the flow of the game as the gap between the former two is kinda exaggerated depending on the offense.

Under the new guidelines, a player returning from a sin bin and committing another offense that warrants a blue card will receive an automatic red card, leading to their permanent dismissal from the match. Additionally, a combination of a blue and a yellow card will also result in a red card.

These changes are aimed at improving on-field behavior and to reduce altercations in all levels, mostly grassroots sports, though it’s still to be seen how the blue card will impact the elite level of professional football. We might have to wait to know more about that, however, as the introduction of this new card in such levels of play is expected to take a while and is already facing a steep hill to make it all the way there with many voices rising against its introduction.

The FA Cup is slated to be the first competition to trial this new system next year among those considered to be high-profile, though FIFA has stated that incorporating such trials into elite competitions is currently considered “premature,” and thus the FA Cup might not enjoy it as quickly as they rushed to announce.

UEFA has expressed disapproval of the sin-bin concept, with UEFA President Alexander Ceferin labeling it as “the death of football,” per reports quoting him. Does this remind you of something, perhaps a thing that goes by a three-letter acronym? Coincidences!

Mark Bullingham, the chief executive of the FA and an IFAB board member, supports the initiative and thus his idea to implement the blue card in next season’s FA Cup. He backed his reasoning on the system having been used already at kid-level play, expecting a similar positive impact at higher levels of the sport.

The proposal aims to bridge the disciplinary gap between yellow and red cards, potentially reducing the number of match-altering decisions and maintaining the game’s flow, though might have actually turn out to the complete opposite depending on the particular referee in charge of a match.

This feels like an overly subjective measure based entirely on the opinion of refs, which doesn’t bode very well for the game, let alone when it comes to removing subjectiveness and controversies.

FIFA has suggested that any trials of the new system should be conducted responsibly at lower levels of football before introducing the blue card in their competitions, and it’s been reported that this stance will be reiterated at the upcoming IFAB annual general meeting scheduled for March 2, 2024.

For whatever reason, the card will be blue instead of orange. I guess we will never get everything right...