Blue cards, which leagues would be in trouble?

On the 8th of February the IFAB(International Football Association Board) announced the trial introduction of a new 3rd card in football, the blue card. Next to the existing red and yellow card, the blue card will be a disciplinary measure that referees can use to sanction players. The blue card will mean a 10 minute time ban for the player to receive the blue card, thus temporarily reducing his team to 1 fewer player on the pitch. It is thus in between a yellow card and red card as it leads to an expulsion but just a temporary one. Other sports such as Rugby and Handball already have temporary time bans as punishment. The Blue card will be used in the case of cynical fouls that are not aggressive and for overly complaining to the referee. 

Football is notorious for complaining about players with the referee. Every football fan recognises the image of an entire team of players swarming around the referee after a decision to complain about the decision made. Football is actually one of the only sports where this behaviour is common, as in tennis, rugby and even women’s football there is way more respect for referees and their decisions.  The blue card is a new disciplinary measure that has been introduced in some football leagues as a trial. It is shown to players who commit certain offences, such as dissent or persistent fouling, and results in them being temporarily sent off the pitch for 10 minutes. The aim of the blue card is to improve player discipline and sportsmanship on the pitch.

The table below shows the amount of yellow cards brandished for dissent in Europe’s top 6 leagues for this season. Interesting is the large discrepancy between leagues, with La Liga and Premier League seeing almost 5 times as many cards for dissent as the Eredivisie for example, while also Bundesliga and Ligue 1 see relatively low levels of dissent. However if that is because referees are less likely to show a card to dissent or whether there is actually less dissent happening is unsure. 

Cards for dissent in the season 2023/24
League#of yellow cards for dissent
La Liga175
Premier League157
Serie A119
Ligue 163

It is too early to say what the impact of the blue card will be on football matches. However, some people believe that it could lead to a more positive and enjoyable experience for both players and fans. Others are concerned that it could disrupt the flow of the game and make it more stop-start. Trials in some competitions held by the FA have seen an 38% reduction in dissent related cards after introduction of the blue card. However, more data is needed to fully see the impact of the new card. 

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