'Blue card' trials delayed as FIFA says talk of introduction 'premature'

The new card and sin-bins were due to be part of fresh trials.

Football’s rule-making body IFAB has delayed publishing details of trials of ‘blue cards’ and sin-bins as FIFA said that reports of their imminent use in professional football were “incorrect and premature”.

IFAB first floated plans to use sin-bins and a new card in addition to the current yellow and red in November, saying that steps needed to be taken in an attempt to stop cynical fouls.

After seeing some success with sin-bins at grassroots level, IFAB are keen to continue the experiment at a higher level and were expected to publish details of further trials on Friday.

However, after their plans were widely reported and sparked reaction from managers and fans, as well as a clear statement from FIFA, further talks on the plan will now take place at IFAB’s meeting in Scotland in early March.

The move is intended to deal with two offences that the rule-makers don’t think are effectively covered by the traditional yellow and red card system.

The new blue card would be used to deal with dissent and tactical fouls. Giorgio Chiellini’s tug on Bukayo Saka in the Euro 2020 final has been presented as an example where a yellow card is considered insufficient because of the nature and context of the foul.

On being shown a blue card, players would be ordered to their technical area to sit out ten minutes. If a player has already been shown a yellow card, or has previously seen a blue card then they would be sent off.

Two blue cards would also merit dismissal.

There is no timeframe on when the system could be introduced at the top level if deemed to be a success but FIFA were quick to distance themselves from the plan after news emerged about the trials.

A tweet from the world football governing body read: “FIFA wishes to clarify that reports of the so-called ‘blue card’ at elite levels of football are incorrect and premature.

“Any such trials, if implemented, should be limited to testing in a responsible manner at lower levels, a position that FIFA intends to reiterate when this agenda item is discussed at the IFAB AGM on March 1.”

Asked about the proposals, Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers laughed at the choice of colour and said the change was unnecessary.

“As soon as I saw it I thought, for it to work in Scotland they had better have a green card as well as a blue card,” Rodgers joked.

“Or we might be in trouble.

“Just don’t complicate it. Make a decision. Red or yellow card. You don’t need a blue card up here, that’s for sure.”

Rangers manager Philippe Clement took a similar view on the added layer of complication.

“I understand the idea behind it,” he said. “I think also there needs to be something done in general about contact with referees and how to do it.

“But the thing about taking players out for ten minutes, I think will create much more nervousness, stress.

“How long does it take to get a player off the pitch? They changed the rule to get them off on the shortest side because there was a lot of lost time before that. You’ll have that even more.

“When does the ten minutes start? Is it playing time, real time? What are teams going to do with a man less and what does that do for the game of football?

“I’m totally not a fan of it. It makes another game and we need to be careful not to change the game.

“We have a really good product with the game of football and it’s really important for the game to be fluent.

“The more stops and dead moments you have, the less good the product is.”

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