There is a throughline to some joke about a player in the future being shown a blue card and then having an arduous and impatient wait to be released out of a penalty box/sin bin. I’m clearly too mature to make such a joke.
‘Soccer fandom is full of gatekeepers’ says Ted Lasso actor Brendan Hunt
Anywho, in lower leagues and cups, the IFAB — the governing body of soccer’s rules — decided a blue card will be available to refs that will sentence players who receive them to sit out for 10 minutes. The Brits call it a sin bin, we call it a penalty box, same diff. The blue card will only be shown for specific instances, which are professional fouls and abuse of officials.
The latter has certainly been a growing problem, as along with every other part of society, player and managers have been excessively twitchy when talking to refs the past few years. The Turkish league had to be shut down after a ref was attacked by a team exec on the field after a match. The Premier League has already set a record for yellows shown for dissent, and there are still 14 games left. Every week it seems there’s another story about an official being harangued or even physically assaulted, even by people who aren’t Jose Mourinho in a parking lot. Upping the penalty for this is probably warranted.
For the professional foul, i.e, an intentional foul to stop a counterattack or a player breaking into space, we all want to see games flow a little better. Still, players may think the foul is worth playing down a man for 10 minutes. Hard to know. But certainly there are instances in every game where a player is callously and intentionally rugby tackled or something similar and the award of a free kick some 50 yards from the goal doesn’t exactly seem the just reward, even with a yellow being shown.
But of course, the drawback here is that these are both subjective calls for which refs will have fuzzy lines drawn, and where is the blue card and where is the yellow card split? What if a professional foul is called when it’s a genuine attempt to play the ball? What will be the demarcation for too much arguing with the ref? Will that change with every ref and what he or she thinks is an appropriate level of pleading one’s case, and what is abusive? There’s really no way to define that. Of course, the only solution would be simply no arguing with a referee at all, but good luck trying to institute that. Matches would have plenty of 9 vs. 8 sections were that the case.
Fans needn’t worry about seeing this at the highest levels for a while, as the earliest it would come to the biggest leagues is 2026. But it does feel like it’s on the way.
Some like to point to the successful installation of a similar system in rugby, except rugby has always had a far bigger culture of respect for officials than soccer has, and that genie isn’t getting back in the lamp anytime soon.
And before anyone starts, fans in the stand would have a hard time telling an orange card from a red one, and so might we at home on TV. That’s why they came up with blue, even if red and yellow combined make orange. And the jokes are better with blue cards, don’t you think? Not that I’d stoop so low.
Interesting passage from the Avs-Canes game last night:
Why you stay in your crease until you’re sure the puck is going around the boards, kids? Though Avs play-by-play guy Mark Moser does kind of act like an alien just landed in the booth and offered to bring him back in time to see Van Halen in 1979. Let’s take it down a notch, huh?
Yeah I know there was some sort of pep rally for Wrestlemania and they ran some serious end of WCW booking out of it and the New York lap dogs are slurping it up as they always do. But if you want to know what WWE really thinks of its fans, listen to none other than the new head of creative: