Yellow Cards

The idea for the yellow card was conceived by British referee Ken Aston during the 1966 World Cup finals as a way of giving a warning that could be understood by all nationalities. Yellow cards were first used in English leagues in 1976 but their use was stopped in 1981 for six years because referees were believed to be using them too readily. Today, a yellow card is used when an offence is perceived to be too minor to be sent off straight away and too serious for a verbal caution.

Two yellow cards in one match results in a Red Card, meaning the player is sent off for the rest of the game. A yellow card can be given at any time during the match, including half time and it does not just refer to misconduct by players. If substitutes conduct an offence, they can also be given a yellow card.

At the end of the day, it is down to the referee to make judgements about a player’s actions and the punishment they deserve. However, below are the offences that officially warrant a yellow card:

  • Wasting time in order to delay the match restarting.
  • Offensive behaviour through words or action, e.g. swearing or aggressive play.
  • Unsporting behaviour, e.g. extravagant celebrations or removing shirt after goal scoring.
  • Failure to maintain the 10 yard distance required when a corner kick or throw-in is being taken.
  • Entering or leaving the field of play without the referees permission.
  • Persistent infringement of the laws of the game e.g. repeated fouls.

A substitute can be given a yellow card for:

  • Wasting time in order to delay the match restarting.
  • Offensive behaviour through words or action, e.g. swearing or aggressive play.
  • Unsporting behaviour, e.g. extravagant celebrations or removing shirt after goal scoring.