Soccer’s lawmakers are on the precipice of making a revolutionary change to the game.
The International Football Association Board (IFAB) is set to give the go-ahead for the introduction of blue cards in senior levels of soccer at its annual meeting on March 2, according to Sky Sports News.
The IFAB is expected to reveal detailed protocols for the blue card trials on Friday.
The new blue cards, primarily aimed to protect referees from in-game abuse, would be implemented in the wake of successful 10-minute sin bin trials in amateur and youth soccer leagues in England and Wales.
In the trials, blue cards gave referees the power to send players off for 10 minutes for either a cynical foul or dissent, causing the transgressor to spend time in the “sin bin.” Essentially, blue cards would be given for offenses more severe than what would warrant a yellow card but less severe than what would warrant a red.
“The success of sin bins in the grassroots game has been prevention rather than cure,” FA chief executive Mark Bullingham told The Athletic last November. “You get to a point where players know about the threat of sin bins so they don’t transgress.”
Two blue cards would result in a red card, as would a blue and a yellow card. The color blue was reportedly picked over orange so that the card is distinct from the yellow and red cards.
If successfully implemented, the blue card would be the first new card issued since 1970, when both the yellow and red cards were introduced.
The IFAB has yet to provide a specific timeline for when blue cards will be trialed higher up the soccer pyramid, but England’s FA has already volunteered to experiment with the new cards for next year’s men’s and women’s FA Cups.
Elsewhere in Europe, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin is adamantly opposed to the rule change and has said that this summer’s Euros and next season’s Champions League will not serve as testing grounds for blue cards.
Other items on the IFAB’s annual meeting agenda include punishing goalkeepers who waste time by awarding a corner kick and only allowing a team’s captain to approach the referee.