Green Card in Soccer: The History and Future

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We have all seen matches where red and yellow cards are handed out to soccer players or footballers. Referees use these cards to keep the game under control and ensure fair play between the opposing teams. 

Referees rarely use green cards in soccer and for different reasons. Various leagues interpret the green card option in different ways. 

In this article, I have taken the time to explain everything you need to know about green cards. So, let’s take some time to learn all about the history and use of green cards.

A Green Card For Fair Play – The First Occurrence

The green card was first introduced by Serie B, the Italian soccer league’s second division, in 2016. The aim was to use the card to reward footballers who play fairly.

They also planned to award the player handed the most green cards at the end of the season. 

Shortly after it was introduced, a player was given the green card for the first time after convincing the referee to change his call. 

The referee had awarded a corner kick to Vicenza Calcio. One of the opposing team’s players, Cristian Galano, approached the referee and convinced him that no Virtus Entalla player had touched the ball. 

The referee changed the call and awarded Cristian Galano a green card. Even after that, most other teams didn’t consider the green card a big deal. They see it as a gesture acknowledging footballers who demonstrate fair play. 

The referee used this opportunity to confirm whether such a card could work in the Italian league. Ultimately, I conclude fans didn’t love or hate the card – they were not just impressed. 

After the event, people forgot about the green card and stopped talking about it. 

A Green Card For Discipline – The Second Occurrence

The second time a player was shown a green card was during the CONIFA World Cup held in 2018. Padania and Tuvalu faced each other in a soccer match, with Padania dominating the game throughout. 

At the end of the game, Padania had won by eight goals to Tuvalu’s zero. During this match, the referee handed out a green card to a player in each team in separate incidents. 

From different sources, I read that the huge disparity in skill caused some players to have a bad attitude, which led to the players being rude to the officials.

As a result, the referee used the green card for basically the same purpose yellow and red cards are used for. The only difference is what the card signified on the pitch. 

New rules were created for that competition. It was stated that players shown the green card have no option but to leave the field immediately. 

Teams with unused substitute players can replace their players with another one. However, a team with no substitute player has to continue the match with only ten players. 

I will enlighten you more about the green card and its consequences as you read further. 

Green Card Punishments

Apart from being sent off the pitch, there is no other punishment for getting a green card. You can even start the next game. That is the difference between a green card and others. 

A green card in soccer is more of a caution than a dismissal. After the event I discussed in the last section, there have not been any notable matches where a green card was handed out. 

Seeing a green card is a pretty rare event. What surprised me about the CONIFA World Cup is that people were so excited to see the green card handed out to a player. 

Most soccer fans have seen only the yellow and red cards. The event that occurred during the CONIFA World Cup trended on social media for more than a week. Some people even thought it would change how things would be done in soccer. 

As you might guess, people had different opinions about the green card. Many people thought it was unnecessary and only the yellow and red cards should be handed out to players. 

Others saw it as a move to get more people to watch the CONIFA competition and earn more fans.

Will a Green Card Ever Actually Be Officially Recognized?

Even though the idea of a green card looks creative, chances are low that FIFA will recognize it. As of now, no professional league has introduced the card. So, it is very unlikely to see its use in international play. 

While the majority of football fans see it as fun, I also noticed the green card slows games down the few times it has been used. Players are not used to it, and learning and adapting to something new might take some time. 

Even though I can’t completely rule out the chances of FIFA introducing a green card in soccer, you should know that players are not really clamoring for it. There is a small number who think the green card should be used in the future. 

This group highlighted what the green card will be used for, and it is safe to say some of their points are positive. They aim to reduce foul language, fighting, and disrespect to officials. 

Various players and managers have been caught saying abusive words in the past, and while you never can tell if introducing green cards will help eradicate that, it’s worth trying. 


Even though green cards have been used just a few times in soccer, you now realize that it promotes fairness and discipline among players. It also motivates the players to respect referees better. 

As things stand, FIFA doesn’t recognize the use of green cards, so it isn’t used in major soccer competitions. 

So, for now, I hope I have satisfied your curiosity about the green card in soccer. Let’s be optimistic, and hope FIFA will introduce it in the future.

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