In soccer, referee holds all the cards
World Cup comments overheard in a local sports bar:
“When the referee holds up a card, does the team score points? This makes less sense than rugby.”
“There’s a red card and a yellow card; is there an orange card, too?”
Although the answer to both of those questions is no, there’s a great deal of confusion among new soccer fans regarding how and why a referee doles out yellow and red cards.
Short answer: It’s entirely at the referees’s discretion.
The yellow card serves as a warning. A referee may “book” a player with a yellow card for any number of reasons, but the two most common are for unsportsmanlike conduct and violent or reckless tackles.
What a referee deems worthy of a yellow card is as varied as the men behind the whistle. Two yellow lead to a red card, which ejects a player from the game, and often carries a one-game suspension.
Once a player receives a red card, the offending team may not substitute for that player, and the game resumes with one team playing a man down.
A “straight red” — when the referee bypasses the first yellow card to immediately eject a player — is also at the referee’s discretion.
An intentional hand ball, when the defender uses his hand to block a crossing pass or shot, will almost certainly draw a red card.
Sliding tackles from behind, especially during breakaways, will more often than not lead to a red card.
Exceptionally violent tackles, when a player makes no attempt at the ball, can draw red cards. Any violent play away from the ball, such as Portugal defender Pepe head-butting a Ghana player early in the World Cup, will produce a red card.
Oftentimes a not-so-rough tackle in the penalty area — also known as the 18-yard box — will lead to a booking.
Those fouls will also lead to a penalty kick.
While the player attempts the penalty kick, no player except the opposing goalie is allowed in the penalty area until the ball is struck.
Taylor Chaffetz, a midfielder for Grand Junction High School and a University of Kansas recruit, said there are few moments more nerve-wracking than a penalty kick.
“The penalty is a scary place to say the least,” Chaffetz said in an email to The Daily Sentinel. “Missing a PK is probably the worst feeling in the whole world. I’ve only missed one PK, and I’m pretty certain we lost that game.
“All I can say is that by winning or losing a game because of a PK is hard because its practically just a goal given to you.”