Orange Card in Soccer (Interesting Twist!)

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An orange card in soccer, Surely not! From a distance it would be difficult to tell if a card was yellow or orange – I guess that would make it interesting, or maybe just confusing!

In soccer, there are currently two cards given out by referees, the yellow and red cards. So if there was an orange card, that would be in the middle of those two. What does it mean when we discuss soccer and what proposals have there been?

What is an orange card in soccer?

There is no official orange card in soccer. It’s used when a decision is unclear but it has also been proposed as a new law.

A yellow card would give a player a caution for reckless play and a red card is for excessive force. So an orange card would be somewhere in the middle, a combination of the two.

Borussia Dortmund Soccer Fans
Borussia Dortmund Soccer Fans

Sports Using Orange Cards

There are no other games using an orange card. Apart from the two cards used in soccer, there are green, white, blue, and black cards.

See also  Soccer Fouls (What And When They Are Given)

So if there is an orange card in soccer, it will be the first.

When Soccer Fans Say Orange Card

Difficult decision

You may have heard the commentators say that the decision should have been an orange card offense, but it’s the kind of phrase that really means ‘I have no idea’ – was it a yellow or a red.

With so many rules in soccer, there are rules that are just a matter of opinion. There is a grey area and sometimes it depends on what referee there is at the game. On another day the decision may have gone the other way.

Own Team Bias

When you’re watching your team play soccer and there is a foul that normally results in a red card. Your friends shout ‘red card!’, you, on the other hand, you know the player should be sent off and not want to be too biased! you shout ‘orange card’!

Those who’ve never heard of an orange card, will say ‘what?’. You can carry the joke on a tell them it’s a new thing! Of course, it’s just friendly joking and wishful thinking, that your player won’t be sent off.

New Soccer Law Proposal for an Orange Card

It was in 2014 when Fifa presidential candidate Jerome Champagne, proposed the idea of using an orange card to sin-bin a player.

Of course, as only a candidate it was just to get the attention of the voters as a forward thinker. He did not go on to win the election, but the theory of an orange card still remains.

Soccer fans supporting team

Along with the sin-bin/orange card proposal, his other ideas were;

  • Quotas for foreign players
  • Captains only speaking to the referee
  • 10-yard freekick advance for dissent
  • Leniency on a red card is given when a penalty is awarded

Three out of the four are used today with only the foreign player quota rule not being used. This is used in some countries as they can add their own laws.

As reported by the BBC;

Champagne suggests players could be sin-binned for two or three minutes for “in-between fouls committed in the heat of the moment”.

Jerome Champagne

In 2017 Marco Van Basten, a technical director of FIFA, suggest implementing an orange card/sin bin system. He’s regarded as a Dutch legend, scoring many goals for the Netherlands/Holland. He’s quoted in the Independent newspaper as saying;

“Maybe an orange card could be shown that sees a player go out of the game for 10 minutes for incidents that are not heavy enough for a red card.” 

Marco Van Basten

What Do the Different Color Cards Mean in Soccer

CardOffenseTypes Of OffensePunishment
Yellow CardReckless
Uses Excessive Force
Charging an Opponent.
Holding an Opponent.
Handling the Ball.
Dangerous Play.
Impeding the Progress of An Opponent.
Breaking up An Attack.
Disciplinary Action.
Sending Off – For 2 Yellow Cards in One Game.
Red CardCarless
Using excessive force
Violent Conduct
Serious Foul Play.
Violent Conduct.
Spitting at A Person.
Deliberate Handball – Denying a Goal-Scoring Opportunity.
Denying an Obvious Goal-Scoring Opportunity.
Offensive, Aggressive, Abusive Language or Gesture.
Receiving a Second Caution.
Sent Off – Can No Longer Play in That Game.
Disciplinary Action.
What Red and Yellow Cards Mean in Soccer – Offenses and Punishment

For more information about the cards and cautions in soccer read these articles;

See also  Soccer Rules for Kids (Parents + Players Guide)

Sin Bins in Soccer

From 2019 sin-bins will be introduced into English soccer, at the ‘grassroots’ level – Non-pro leagues to youth teams. This was first decided in 2017 by the English FA, so 3 years after the proposal from Jerome Champagne.

Why Sin Bins?

Nobody wants to see a player get sent off – well not always! As a viewer on TV, it can spoil a good game – if you’re on the pitch or the coach, it can ease the tension.

It’s important for the referees to ben be in control of the game and they themselves don’t want to give a red card. With a sin-bin rule and an orange card, it gives the referee more control without ruining the game. Plus as a spectator, it would be interesting to see.


Soccer is a physical game and during a match, the adrenalin builds up and tension can arise easily. In England, soccer has been compared to Rugby, which is more physical, but there is more respect.

Respect for the officials who know the rules and for all people concerned can only be a good thing,

Sin Bin – Orange Card Survey

The English FA carried out a survey after trialing the sin bin system and these are the results;

  • 72% of players wanted to continue with sin bins;
  • 77% of managers/Coaches wanted to continue with sin bins;
  • 84% of referees wanted to continue with sin bins.

English Grassroots Sin Bins

Why Does a Player Get Sent to the Sin Bin?

A player will be sent to the sin bin for dissent, by a player’s words or actions.

Where is a Sin Bin?

A player who’s ordered to go to the sin bin must go to the technical area of his team. The area that surrounds the manager and the substitutes.

Sin Bin and No Orange Card!

There will be no orange card shown by the referee when they’re sending a player to the sin bin. The referee will instead show a yellow card, point to the card, and then point to the sidelines.

How Long in the Sin Bin?

A youth player will spend 8 minutes in the sin bin and an adult will spend 10 minutes.

See also  What is a Penalty Kick in Soccer? (Must-Know Rules)

How Many Players in the Sin Bin?

There is no limit to the number of players in a sin bin, but the laws of the game already state that there should be no fewer than 7 players on one side.

So if a team were to have 5 players sent off, the match would be abandoned and the other team would be awarded the points/progression.

Here is an infographic from the FA and their sin bin system;

Sin bin orange card infographic
Sin Bins – Grass Roots Soccer – Courtesy of The FA

What does an orange card mean in soccer?

There is no official orange card in soccer. It can refer to a decision that is in between and yellow and a red card offense. Sometimes associated with a sin bin system.

What is a blue card in soccer?

Blue cards are issued for indoor American soccer. It’s less than a yellow card – the player must sit in the box for 2 minutes or until a goal is scored against the offending team.

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Soccer Analyst and Publisher at Soccer Blade | Soccer Blade

Joel is a seasoned soccer journalist and analyst with many years of experience in the field. Joel specializes in game analysis, player profiles, transfer news, and has a keen eye for the tactical nuances of the game. He played at various levels in the game and coached teams - he is happy to share his insight with you.

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Soccer Rules FAQ

How long is a soccer game?

Soccer games include two 45 minute halves, which is 90 minutes of play. Those who have ever watched a game know that, like many sports, real-time is longer than the match time.
In real-time, the length of a soccer game varies immensely. At the bare minimum, it will be 90 minutes of play + 15 minutes of halftime for a total of 105 minutes.

What is offside in soccer?

The offside rule in soccer is to stop player ‘goal hanging’ – standing near the opposition goal. This also stops soccer from being a long ball game, balls hit from one goal to another.

What are yellow card offenses?

+ Charging an opponent – caution if reckless.
+ Holding an opponent – When the ball is in play and the holding continues.
+ Handling the Ball – When a player handles the ball to break up attacking play. If an attacker + uses their hand to attempt to score a goal.
+ Dangerous play – If a player makes an action that can risk an injury to another player.
+ Impeding the progress of an opponent – If a player holds another player back or blocks a player on purpose, that prevents an attack.
+ Breaking up an attack - where there is the possibility of creating a scoring chance.
+ Simulation - where a player tries to con a referee into thinking that they are injured in order to punish the opponent. If a player tries to make out that they have been fouled.

What are the red card offenses?

+ Serious foul play
+ Violent conduct
+ Spitting at a person
+ Deliberate handball – denying a goal-scoring opportunity
+ Denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity
+ Offensive, aggressive, abusive language or gesture
+ Receiving a second caution

Soccer field size, size of goal, number of players and minutes played per age;

+ u17-u19 - Halves 2 x 45 minutes - Number of players 11 vs 11 - Goal Size 8 x 24 - Field size 50-100 by 100-130 yards
+ u15-u16 - Halves 2 x 40 minutes - Number of players 11 vs 11 - Goal Size 8 x 24 - Field size 50- 100 by 100-130 yards
+ u13-u14 - Halves 2 x 35 minutes - Number of players 11 vs 11 - Goal Size 8 x 24 - Field size 50-10 by 100-130 yards
+ u11-u12 - Halves 2 x 30 minutes - Number of players 9 vs 9 - Goal Size 7 x 21 - Field size 45-70 by 70-80 yards
+ u9-u10 - Halves 2 x 25 minutes - Number of players 7 vs 7 - Goal Size 6 x 18.5 - Field size 35-45 by 55-65 yards
+ u6-u8 - Quarters 4 x 10 minutes - Number of players 4 vs 4 - 4 x 6 Goal Size - Field size 15-25 by 25-35 yards

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