Red cards in soccer totally change the way a game goes. That extra player makes big a difference. This can make an interesting game, while one team tries to break down the opponent as they defend and they try to counter-attack.
For some teams, it can seem like the game is over, so it’s important to know the red card rules. Here are a few things we will cover in this article;
- What a Red Card Is
- When Red Cards Are Given
- Red Cards Examples
- The First Red Card
The red card rule is one of the most important for you and your team, so let’s take a look at what they mean.
When Do You Get a Red Card in Soccer?
A red card is given when a player uses “excessive force”. This can be an aggressive tackle that endangers an opponent or misconduct as outlined in the rules below.
In this article, I will take you through all of the areas where a player can receive a red so that we can avoid it as players and we can instruct other players to do the same. Knowing the official rules will help us play a better game – we’ll know how we can tackle the safe side of the law.
Being strong in the game is a major factor in competing, it’s a physical game, so it’s best to know right from wrong.
Red Card Soccer FAQ
New Rules For Red Cards 2022
Previously if a player fouled an opponent in the penalty box, and they stopped a goal-scoring chance, the attacking team would be awarded a penalty and the player would be shown a red card.
Now, this has changed – only if a foul in the penalty box is considered a red card on the rest of the field will the player be sent off. So there is no ‘double punishment’ for fouling in the box. A penalty is enough.
Red Card Rules For MLS + EPL
Soccer rules are international, so the same reasons that a red card is given in the MLS are the same in the English Premier League. The only difference to the rules is the punishment for the red card.
All soccer leagues around the world need to follow the official rules from IFAB/FIFA – a World Cup would be crazy if we didn’t! The leagues can give their own rules on disciplinary actions – suspensions and fines.
The rules for suspension of a player after receiving a red card are;
- 1 Game Ban – Two yellow cards
- 1 Game Ban – Minimal red card offense
- 2+ Game Ban – Serious foul play
The number of games a player is banned for depends on how serious the offense is. The player will automatically receive a one-game ban and in the following days, the committee will decide if the player deserves further game suspensions.
There is also a consideration taken for how many other suspensions a player has had in the season. Multiple red and yellow cards could lead to further suspensions.
23 May 2012. the Galaxy Go Down to 10 Men After a Red Card Was Given During the Major League Soccer Game Between the San Jose Earthquakes and The Los Angeles Galaxy at The Home Depot Center
Official Red Card Soccer Rules
There are many opinions about when a red card should be shown in soccer, but the best place to get the rules is from the rule-makers. Football Federation International Football or FIFA as they commonly know.
These three stages are outlines for what a player should receive, for their offense;
1. Careless Soccer Play
Carless – means that the player has shown a lack of attention or consideration when making his challenge or that they acted without precaution: no further disciplinary sanction is needed if a foul is judged to be careless.FIFA Law 12
2. Reckless Soccer Play
Reckless – means that the player has acted with complete disregard of the danger to, or consequences for, his opponent: a player who plays in a reckless manner shall be cautioned.FIFA Law 12
3. Using Excessive Force Soccer Play
Using excessive force – means that the player has far exceeded the necessary use of force and is in danger of injuring an on opponent: a player who uses excessive force shall be sent offFIFA Law 12
Later, we’ll have a look at the seven reasons for a red card. First off, let’s look at these laws in detail.
7 Rules For Red Cards In Soccer
So above are the official rules for red cards, but what does that mean in real games? Let’s break it down to make it more
1. Using Excessive Force – Serious Foul Play
A player will receive a red car for using force that’s more than necessary. For example, tackling a player where the player’s intention is to injure.
If a player commits a violent foul with ‘intention to harm’ it’s a red card.
For example; A player goes in to tackle someone but the ball is far from the tackle – this can be seen as intentional because there was no chance that the player would win the ball.
The referee needs to make a call whether the player really meant to injure or if they just mistimed the tackle (it could be that the player is a bad tackler, although being clumsy cannot be an excuse if someone is really hurt).
This is just one example where a player can be sent off, but there are many more.
If a player lunges or slides towards a player with their leg raised in an aggressive manner, with the studs toward the opponent. It can be one leg or two, coming from the front, back, or sides. This is classified as ‘serious foul play’.
If a player commits an offense while the ball is still in play. The referee can let the play continue to allow an advantage and give a red when the ball is out of play.
If a player is out of control of where their leg is going because they can’t stop themselves, it’s a lunge.
3. Violent Conduct
Excessive and brutal force when challenging a player, spectator, or another person. This can be when a player punches or kicks someone.
It can be on the field of play or outside of it. It applies to any player on the pitch and also those on the bench. The referee will only allow play to continue if there is a goal-scoring opportunity.
4. Object or Ball Thrown
If a player throws an object, either on the pitch or bench, in an aggressive manner, the player will be shown a red card.
5. Denying a Goal or Scoring Opportunity
If a goal-scoring opportunity is denied, this can be inside the penalty box or outside. The referee allows play to continue as an advantage and a goal is scored, only a yellow card would be given.
The two offenses for this to happen are;
- Deliberate handball
- Any offense that would cause a freekick
The closer to the goal the offense occurs, the more likely a red card is given. Including if the ball would have gone into the goal if it were not for the handball.
Along with other factors, such as the positions of the defenders and the direction of play.
6. Offensive, Insulting or Abusive Language
Any player who’s guilty of the above must be sent off. This can be towards any person, player, official, or spectator.
7. Two Yellow Cards
If a player is shown two yellow cards in a game, the referee will show the second yellow to the player and then the red card. The player needs to then leave the field and can no longer take part.
7 Reasons for A Red Card + Examples
- 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
Here’s a detailed look at the seven reasons for a red card in soccer with examples;
1. Serious Fouls
A serious foul is one that can badly hurt a player. These fouls are usually committed with excessive force. They’re considered ‘dangerous play’ in soccer.
For example, if you tackle with your cleats up and connect with a player’s leg. This type of tackle can break someone’s leg. Check out this video to get an idea of serious fouls:
Violent conduct will get you a red card in soccer. If you hit or attack anyone on the soccer field, you’ll be sent off by the referee.
There’s no room for violent conduct in soccer. It’s very dangerous, especially if a group of players gets involved. But any type of violence will get you sent off. Even if it’s against your own team.
And of course, against the other team. Zinedine Zidane had an infamous incident of violent conduct in the 2006 World Cup final. And he got sent off. See it below:
3. Deliberate handball to stop a goal
If you deliberately handle the ball to stop a goal, you’ll get a red card in soccer. There are usually two scenarios when this can happen. The first is when a player crosses the ball to a teammate for an easy goal.
Imagine the ball in the air coming towards the attacking player for an easy tap-in. But then the defending player stops the ball with her hand. This will be a red card because it stopped a goal (or a clear goal-scoring opportunity).
The second happens when the ball is going for the goal. And it’s going to be a goal. But a player deliberately handles the ball to stop the goal.
Luis Suarez’s deliberate handball in the 2010 World Cup quarter-final is a high-profile example. Check it out:
4. Deliberate Foul to Stop a Goal-Scoring Opportunity
If you deliberately commit a foul when someone has a good opportunity to score a goal, you’ll get a red card in soccer. A player might be running towards the goalie with a good goal-scoring opportunity. If you foul that player deliberately, like a push or trip, you’ll get a red card.
Before, any foul that stopped a goal-scoring opportunity could be a red card. But now it’s only a red card if the referee judges the foul to be deliberate.
So, any deliberate foul to stop a goal-scoring opportunity will be an automatic red card.
5. Offensive and Abusive Behavior
It’s a red card in soccer for offensive and abusive behavior. This can be for offensive and abusive language towards other players, officials, or fans.
And it can be for offensive and abusive gestures. If you do this, you’ll get a red card in soccer.
6. Spitting at Someone
Spitting at someone is a red card in soccer. It should go without saying that there’s no place in soccer for spitting.
If you spit at someone, the referee won’t hesitate to give a red card.
7. Getting a Second Yellow Card
In soccer, getting 2 yellow cards equals a red card. So, if you get two yellow cards, you’ll be sent off the field.
History of Red Cards in Soccer
Red and yellow cards came into the game of soccer after the violence at a world cup in 1962. The first foul in the match was after 12 seconds and Kaplan International reports after the referee had returned to England and was driving home
“While I was driving the light turned red and I thought, ‘Yellow, calm down and red, stop, go out.’”Referee Ken Aston
After this incident at the world cup, it was another 8 years before red and yellow cards were introduced. In the 1970 World Cup in Mexico cards were first used.