Green Card In Soccer | The Facts & How It Works 2023

In soccer, cards are popularly used to keep the game in check and in control.

The popular cards mainly used are the yellow and red cards for caution and dismissal of the player in question.

But, there is a third, the green card that is sometimes used but occasionally. So now, what is a green card? 

What Is A Green Card In Soccer?

Green Card In Soccer | The Facts & How It Works

It is used to encourage fair play by awarding it to players who display sportsmanlike behavior.

It can also serve as a warning to players who show dissent or disrespect towards match officials.

As a result, the card use varies depending on the soccer league, and there is no fixed criterion for its application

There have been two occurrences where the green card was handed out to players for dissent and disrespect and the other was to reward the players for extraordinary action. 

What Purpose Does A Green Card Serve In soccer? 

This card serves the purpose of motivating players to play fair as they get rewarded for playing with decorum and at the same time redress them on how to play the game correctly and neatly. 

When a player is found disobedient to the rules of the game, a green card is issued to the player and is forced to leave the field to be replaced by another bench player.

The aim of having a bench with extra players is to replace them with players when issued with a green card.


The History

The green card was implemented to help change the rules of the game from season to season.

With the rules changing, more and more implementations must be made to ensure fairness in the game.

Although, power and control will be within the referee to keep players behaved during the entirety of the game.

Initially, red and yellow cards were the only means to address players breaking the laws of the game, and positive behavior on the field went unrewarded for several years.

It wasn’t until 1986 that Roosevelt Castro Bohorquez, a soccer referee from Colombia, birth the idea of green cards in soccer.

The idea was born out of Roosevelt’s desire to reinforce the values of the game by adding a green card to the existing traffic light system, alongside the already-established red and yellow cards.

As a result of Roosevelt’s commitment to promoting mutual respect in soccer, he created a manual in 1996 that ultimately led to the development of the green card.

In an interview with a popular tabloid, He was asked when he started giving green cards:

“With the Laminita del Divino Niño Jesús I started in 1996, but, and as explained, I implemented them in the year of 2004 in several children’s soccer games.”

Roosevet Castro Bohorquez

Can you describe the reaction you received the first time you showed a player a green card on the field?

“He was very curious and scared, but I explained the methodology that consisted of not punishing him but acknowledging his respectful behavior and fair play that he had on the field.”

Roosevet Castro Bohorquez

Do players and fans in Colombia embrace the use?

“There are many players and technicians who see it with good eyes, for the contribution to peace and coexistence in football.

I have done some opinion tests that are on my YouTube Channel and many have liked this proposal that rewards fair play.”

Roosevet Castro Bohorquez

History 1: Italian Serie B League, 2016

The other instance of soccer where there has been the issuance of a green card to a player was in Italy, in 2016.

The second green card was handed in Italy to Cristian Galano, a Vicenza Calcio player on October 2016. He, Cristian admitted to the referee Marco Mainardi that his team was awarded incorrectly for a goal kick and that he didn’t touch the ball.

The referee then revoked the goal kick and gave it to the rival team, Vitrus Enella but in the end, he earned a green card.

This card served as an emblematic one meant to concede an exceptional action. The President of Serie B, Andrea Abodi said to the news:

“It is a symbolic award, it could be something very simple The important thing is to recognize it when a professional does something exemplary.”

FIFA and other game academies don’t acknowledge the green card nor are referees allowed to use it within a match. But the green card has been used to reward a player for a positive approach towards the game. 

History 2: CONIFA World Cup, 2018

The first ever green card was awarded at Confederation of Independent Football Associations (CONIFA), 2018 to a Tuvalu midfielder by the referee Raymond Mashamba against the game opposing team, Padania. 

This green card issuance in 2018 was handed to the midfielder from Tuvalu to caution him with dissent and disrespect towards the referee, Raymond.

The referee was also given more control over the players and the game. This card helps keeps the players better behaved and more respectful towards him.

“It’s a really good idea of sanctioning things that might not be worthy of a red card. More like personal mistakes – using swear words, disrespecting spectators and coaches, and so on. It’s a perfect way to find something in between.” 

Jens Jockel

Although, according to the news, the opposing team, Padania was also handed out a green card in the same match as there was a case of disrespect towards the players and match officials. 

Green Cards Used In Irish Soccer (FAI)

To qualify for big competitions in Ireland, youth teams can earn a green card from the FAI by adhering to the following guidelines:

  • Prior to each game, players and coaches must line up and shake hands with the opposing team and game officials.
  • During the game, no foul or abusive language should be used by players or coaches, and over-aggressive play should be avoided.
  • Fighting, whether with teammates or opposing players, is strictly prohibited.
  • Whenever a foul is committed, both players involved must shake hands before play can resume.
  • Respect must be shown to game officials, other players, and coaches at all times.
  • After each game, players and coaches should again line up and shake hands with the opposing team and game officials.

If all of these points are followed, a team will receive a green card from the FAI, which will allow them to participate in larger competitions throughout the country.

What Is The Purpose Of A Green Card In Soccer?

The green card is used by referees to reward and promote players who play fair and to keep players disciplined during the entirety of the game.

  • Fairness

Green cards are a strategic way of ensuring and promoting fairness in the game and having the right outlook and attitude toward the game of soccer.

Hence, the green card was implemented to award players who follow the rules of the game and match. 

This fairness was been recognized in Italian Serie B League, 2016 where a player was awarded for playing the game fair. 

  • Exemplary Measures 

Green cards have also been used in exemplary measures to help caution players who disrespect the game and the referee.

The CONIFA World Cup in 2018 is an exhibit where a green card was used for discipline. The green card is quite similar to the yellow card in disciplining and cautioning players. 

But there is a difference.

In matches, when a referee issues a player with a yellow card, the player can still continue playing in the game as the player was simply cautioned.

The green card on the other hand does not give you this edge. 

When a referee issues a player with a green card, the player can no longer continue playing in the game and therefore will be replaced with another player sitting on the bench.

If there are no more players readily available to play, the team will have to proceed to play the game with a player down. 


Will Green Card Be Officially Used In The Future?

While the green card may seem creative in the examples discussed in this article, the chances of it being officially adopted in a professional league, let alone international play, is unlikely.

Most likely, it would simply be a trivial anecdote, as its introduction could slow down the game and confuse those who are not familiar with it.

While it is not impossible for it to be adopted in the future, there is currently little demand for it from players or fans.

While it is likely that it will continue to be relatively unknown, it is still worthwhile to explore new concepts like it in order to introduce more diversity to the beautiful game.

Final Thought- Green Card In Soccer

Green cards have been used to promote fairness and keep players disciplined to respect the referee and the game.

The usage of the green card is not definite but can be issued to players for either playing fair or to caution and demand respect from them. 

It is not recognized by any major soccer organizations such as FIFA and UEFA, and referees are not permitted to use it in their competitions.

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