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What is a Blue Card in Soccer?

Posted by Jason Sholl on June 21, 2016


I have been asked several times when other referees see my kit and I'm getting ready for a match: "what is that blue card for?" In the world of outdoor soccer, blue is a pretty strange color to associate with misconduct in soccer. We know what a yellow card is usually for, and we certainly can all call a red card when we see it. But how do you explain blue?

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The blue card is reserved for misconduct in indoor soccer. In the heirarchy of cards, it is the lowest level of punishment in the book. Yellow card is the next escalation and a red card is the ultimate ejection from the game. There are a number of offenses that can warrant a blue card, but it is ultimately a penalty timeout that allows the other team a timed, two-minute power play advantage. 

Offenses can include:

  • Spitting on the indoor turf (yuck!)
  • Persistent infringement
  • Dissent by word or action
  • Encroachment
  • Too many players on the field, or illegal substitution
  • Violations of house safety rules: chewing gum, leaving field exits ajar, etc.
  • Minor physical foul that the referee must punish to control the game

Referees in indoor soccer have discretion to determine where misconduct falls between a blue or yellow card.

Most facilities outline mandatory reasons for misconduct, which are sometimes referred to as timed penalties. A blue card is a two minute minor penalty where the offender sits in a penalty box and their team plays short until a goal is scored against them or the penalty time runs out. Yellow cards are considered a double minor with a four minute timed penalty. If a goal is scored after two minutes, the penalty is canceled, otherwise the entire four minutes is to be served. Red cards usually require the player to leave the match area and a timed five minute penalty is served in full by a team member. Some facilities modify this timed penalty.

The blue card is not intended to punish physical board checking, profanity, or assault. These are critical events to eliminate from the sport and punish with an ejection.

What do you think? Are there other reasons blue cards are used in soccer, or did we miss some of the reasons referees can give a minor penalty? Let us know in the comments!

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