Contrary to popular belief, soccer is a physical sport full of intense collisions, excitement, and everything in between.
Sometimes, that physicality is embraced. Other times, it is punished. The balance between the two is a 4-inch x 3-inch sheet of bright yellow cardboard paper.
Yellow cards are an ever-present part of soccer, a compelling bit of order in the beautiful chaos that defines the beautiful game.
But what do yellow cards mean in soccer? What exactly is decided when this glittering, heart-sinking device is on display?
Let me tell you.
First, let’s answer the question: what do yellow cards mean in soccer?
In soccer, a yellow card warns a player of his behavior on the field. When the referee shows a soccer player a yellow card, it warns them for committing a foul during the game.
Here is the definition from the Professional Football Scouts Association (PFSA):Essentially, the referee issues a yellow card as a warning or caution. A yellow card gives the player who gets the ball another chance to stay on the field for the rest of the game, while a red card means the player has to leave the field immediately.
If the official thinks a player has done something wrong, they will blow the whistle to stop the game, warn the player, show them a yellow card, and then give the other team a free kick.
Not every foul is a yellow card – in fact, most fouls are not.
However, in essence, the referee shows a yellow card for six types of infractions:
β Unsportsmanlike conduct
β Dissent through words or behavior
β Repeated infringements of the rules
β Delaying the restart of play
β Not staying far enough away from a corner or free kick.
β Leaving and returning to the field without the referee’s permission.
Yes, there is a lot of room for interpretation. However, it is important to realize that if a player receives a yellow card, they will receive a warning for their actions.
The referee decides what counts as “unethical behavior.”
They will assess the situation as they see it, make a decision, and have the final say on any decision they make.
Still, the official soccer rules say what kind of behavior is not a good sport. It helps the judges decide what to do.
It is an example of bad behavior in soccer:
β Trying to deceive the referee, such as faking an injury or pretending to be fouled (simulation)
β Exchanging places with the goalkeeper during the game or without the referee’s permission
β Recklessly attacking with a direct free-kick
β Interfering with or stopping a promising attack with the ball in hand
β Fouling, interfering with, or stopping a promising offense unless the referee awards a penalty kick for an attempted play on the ball
β Depriving an opponent of a clear goal-scoring opportunity by attempting to kick the ball for an attack, the referee awards a penalty kick
β Attempting to score a goal by holding the ball (whether or not the attempt is successful) or attempting to prevent a goal but failing to do so
β Making an unauthorized mark on the field of play
β Kicking the ball when leaving the field of play after having been given leave to do so
β Not following the rules of the game
β To get around the rules, purposely pass the ball to the goalie with the head, chest, knee, etc., even if the goalkeeper doesn’t touch the ball with his hands.
β Distracting an opponent with words during play or at a restart
If you get two yellow cards in a row, you will get a red card and be kicked out of the game.
Repeat offenders in multiple matches can also face severe penalties.
In the 2022 FIFA World Cup, if players get yellow cards in two matches, they will miss their team’s next match.
You might be a player who just got a yellow card in a game, or you might have just seen the judge give a player a yellow card.
It could make you wonder how long the yellow card will last.
Once the game is over, they no longer have any effect or consequence.
Please note that accumulating yellow cards can have far-reaching effects beyond a single game.
For example, under the Football League Rules and Competition Regulations, certain competitions allow for the accumulation of Yellow Cards over multiple matches, which can lead to suspension or disqualification from future matches.
It is also important to remember that the exact consequences of accumulating yellow cards will depend on the match rules and the league.
In tournaments such as the World Cup, FIFA World Cup, Premier League, or UEFA Champions League, yellow cards do not carry over from the group stage to the knockout stage, meaning that if someone receives a yellow card in the group stage, this will not count towards their total in the knockout stage.
However, in the same tournament or league, a yellow card can carry over from one game to the next. Getting a yellow card during a game adds to the number of cards they have, which could lead to a ban or a red card.
When you watch a soccer match and see a player receive a yellow card, you will usually see the referee write something on the back of the yellow card. But what does the referee write?
The referee writes three things on the yellow card:
The main reason for writing this information down is to help the referee keep track of what happened.
The referee uses this record so that they remember what has happened so far in the game or who has shown a yellow card. It is especially important in matches where more than one player has received a yellow card.
They also record yellow cards because they must submit a match report after the match. Providing this written list helps them remember each offense, who committed it, and when the game took place.
Although you most often see players on the field being shown yellow cards, referees are not limited to only showing them yellow cards.
A yellow card can be given to any team official for a foul during a soccer game. It includes managers and coaches.
If a foul is committed and the referee is not sure who the offender is, the referee is allowed to warn the most senior member of the coaching staff present.
Infractions for which a team official may receive a warning include:
What Do Yellow Cards Mean in Soccer?
A yellow card means a player has done something wrong or behaved improperly. The referee gives the player the card.
It tells the player and his team that more bad behavior could lead to worse punishments, like getting a red card or being kicked out of the game.
Remember that accumulating too many yellow cards can lead to suspension from future matches, so players must remain calm and follow the rules.
Coaches and team managers should also tell players to treat their opponents carefully, both on and off the field.
Ultimately, if you focus on the game and what you need to do, you can avoid getting a yellow card!