Just about everyone understands that there are yellow and red cards handed out in soccer for certain infractions. They are mostly used to control the game and ensure that everything is under control. Since a red card, or two yellow cards, carry steep consequences, it helps to cut down on unsportsmanlike behavior.
However, there is a third card that is mentioned from time to time. What does a green card mean in soccer?
The answer is a bit complicated and unclear. A green card has been used very sparingly in the history of soccer, and for different reasons that are not clear. Since it is not a card color that actually exists, leagues can have their own interpretation of the option.
A Green Card For Fair Play
In 2016, the Series B League in Italy decided that they would reward players showing fair play. Green cards would be the way to reward them, and the one who received the most at the end of the year would be honored in the end.
It did not take long for a player to receive a green card after helping a referee change a call. Originally, the referee told Cristian Galano of Vicenza Calcio that they earned a corner kick. However, Galano told the referee that no Virtus Entella defender actually contacted the ball. The call was changed, and the green card was awarded after the fact.
This never really caught on, and the green card is now not considered part of the league. It was more of a symbolic gesture in general, and was meant to be something that would only showcase someone doing something extraordinary.
It seemed like it was more of a test to see if something like this could also work in the big league in Italy. However, since it was not really loved or hated, it just never really made a big splash. Eventually, it was completely fazed out, and never really talked about again.
A Green Card For Discipline
A green card was once again utilized in 2018 during the CONIFA World Cup. This was particularly in a match up between Padania and Tuvalu, with Padania in complete control of the match by a score of 8-0.
The referee decided to give a green card to a player on both teams in the second half during separate incidents. The explanation was that there was a little bit of dissent between the players and the officials.
It was officially handed out because the two players were showing a lack of respect to the officials while the game was going on. Part of this was because of the lopsided affair that was occurring.
In this particular instance, it was utilized much like a yellow or red card. The difference is what actually happened to the player when they were shown the green card.
According to the rules for that particular tournament, any player receiving a green card had to leave the field of play right away. Those teams that had a substitution available can bring in a different player as a replacement, but those who had no more replacements left how to play with a man down.
Green Card Punishments
There is no further punishment with this particular green card, as that player can enter the following game and be ready to go from the beginning. It makes the green card a little bit more of a caution instead of being that detrimental to a team.
This was the only instance where an actual green card was shown instead of just being virtually assessed. It never really seemed to catch on past the event, making it unclear as to whether or not it will ever actually show up again.
Perhaps the weirdest thing about this CONIFA World Cup is that everyone seemed to really hype up the fact that the first ever green card was issued in the history of soccer. They made several social media posts about it, and felt like it was a change in the right direction.
However, a lot of people were very skeptical about the move, and felt like it was completely unnecessary to make such a change. Most viewed it as nothing more than a gimmick to try to get more viewers to a cup that is not necessarily paid attention to that much.
Will There Ever Be a Third Card of Any Color In Soccer?
Most leagues feel like there is not really a need for a third card at this point in time for any type of punishment. The system works well with yellow and red cards, anything more to the table is going to be pretty hard to implement.
Soccer is pretty resistant to change in general, so this seems like a step in the wrong direction.
Will a Green Card Ever Actually Be Officially Recognized?
As creative as the green card might be in the instances talked about in this article, it is very unlikely that a green card will ever officially be added to a professional league, let alone international play.
It just seems like more of a fun side note more than anything, and it would only slow down the game and confuse people learning something new.
It is impossible to say never, but not a lot of players or fans are clamoring for a green card either. More than likely, it will stay in relative obscurity just like it is currently. Still, it was worth trying something a little different in these two instances to mix the game up a bit.