Red Card and Yellow Card in Football

Red card and yellow card in football are fundamental tools referees use to maintain order and discipline on the field. 

In this article, we overview what each card entails and their implications for players and teams.

Football Red Card

In football, a red card is a disciplinary sanction given to a player by the referee. It is the most severe punishment a player can receive during a match, resulting in immediate expulsion from the game. 
You can learn more about football details in the football rules and regulations.


Here’s what typically happens when a player receives a red card:

  1. Serious Foul Play. A red card is usually shown when a player commits a serious foul play, such as a dangerous tackle, violent conduct, or deliberately striking an opponent.
  1. Second Yellow Card. Sometimes, referees issue a red card after a player receives a second yellow card in the same match. Referees give a yellow card for less serious offenses or persistent rule violations. When players receive two yellow cards in one game, they automatically receive a red card and are ejected from the match.
  1. Direct Red Card. Alternatively, a player can receive a red card directly from the referee for particularly egregious offenses, such as spitting at an opponent, using offensive language or gestures, or denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity by committing a deliberate handball (except for the goalkeeper within their penalty area).

Once a player is shown a red card and sent off, their team is forced to play with one fewer player for the remainder of the match. This can disadvantage the team, as they have to adjust their tactics and formation to cover for the absence of the expelled player. 

Additionally, the player who receives a red card may face further disciplinary action from the governing body of the sport, including fines or suspensions from future matches.

Yellow Card in Football

In football, a yellow card is a disciplinary sanction issued by the referee to a player for committing a specific offense. It serves as a warning to the player that their conduct is unacceptable and may result in further consequences if repeated. 

Here’s an explanation of when a yellow card is typically given and its implications:

Minor Foul Play

A yellow card is often shown for minor infractions or fouls that disrupt the game’s flow but are not considered severe enough to warrant a red card. This can include reckless challenges, tactical fouls to stop an opponent’s attack, time-wasting, or dissent towards the referee.

    Persistent Infringement

    A player may receive a yellow card if they commit several fouls or infringements throughout the match, even if each offense is not serious enough to warrant a booking. This is to deter players from repeatedly breaking the rules.


      Unsporting Behavior

      Actions that display unsporting behavior (unsportsmanlike conduct), such as simulation (diving), deliberately handling the ball to gain an advantage, or other forms of misconduct, can result in a yellow card.

        Delaying the Restart of Play

        Players who intentionally delay the restart of play, such as by kicking the ball away after a foul or not retreating the required distance for a free kick, may receive a yellow card.

        When the referee issues a yellow card, it is recorded and typically serves as a caution. However, if a player receives a second yellow card in the same match, the referee shows them a red card, resulting in their immediate expulsion from the game.

        Additionally, depending on the rules of the competition or league, accumulating a certain number of yellow cards over multiple matches can result in suspension from future games.

        Overall, the yellow card system in football helps maintain discipline on the field and encourages players to adhere to the game’s rules.

        Yellow Card vs Red Card

        CardReasonImpact on PlayerImpact on Team
        Yellow CardWarning for minor offensesPlayer stays in the gamePossible suspension for multiple yellows
        Red CardImmediate expulsion for serious offensesTeam plays with one less playerPossible further punishment

        Other Cards in Football

        Some football leagues use additional colored cards to convey specific disciplinary actions or information. For example, a blue card in futsal indicates a temporary suspension.

        Blue Card

        In some youth or grassroots football leagues, a blue card may be used as a temporary suspension, typically lasting for a few minutes, during which the player must leave the field. This allows for a cooling-off period or a chance for the player to receive coaching on their behavior.

        Green Card

        Some leagues introduced the concept of a green card as a positive disciplinary measure. Referees typically show it to players for sportsmanship, fair play, or acts of kindness on the field. It serves to encourage and reward positive behavior.

        White Card

        In international competitions or tournaments, a white card may signal medical staff to enter the field to treat injured players. This helps ensure prompt medical attention without interrupting the flow of the game.

        Yellow and Red Card Variations

        Some competitions may have variations of yellow and red cards with slightly different meanings or purposes. 

        For example, in beach football, a player who receives a yellow card must leave the field for two minutes. In futsal, accumulating a certain number of fouls results in a blue card, which temporarily suspends the player.

        These additional cards, though less common, help maintain discipline, fairness, and safety on the field. They serve specific purposes within the game context.

        Football Yellow Card and Red Card Sum Up

        Red and yellow cards in football are used for discipline. A red card means a player is immediately kicked out of the game for serious offenses like dangerous tackles. It can also happen if a player gets two yellow cards in one game. 

        A yellow card is a warning for less serious fouls or unsportsmanlike behavior. If a player gets too many yellow cards, they might be suspended from future matches. Typically, two yellow cards equal a red card. 

        Other colors like blue, green, and white cards are used for various reasons but are less common. Their specific meanings depend on the sport and its rules.

        Frequently Asked Questions

        What is a red card in football❓

        A red card means a player is expelled from the game for a serious offense.

        When is a red football card given❓

        It’s typically shown for serious fouls, violent conduct, or receiving two yellow cards in the same match.

        What happens when a football player gets a red card❓

        The player must leave the game, and their team plays with one less player for the rest of the match.

        What is a yellow card in football❓

        A yellow card is a warning for less severe offenses or unsporting behavior.

        When is a yellow football card given❓

        It’s usually shown for minor fouls, persistent infringement, or unsporting behavior.

        How many yellow cards equal a red card in football❓

        Typically, two yellow cards in the same match result in a red card.

        Are there other colored cards used in football❓

        Yes, in some cases, other colors like blue, green, or white might be used for specific purposes, but they’re less common.