Why do soccer players get yellow cards and what are their reasons behind it?
Chances are you are wondering what the answer was, and are now trying to find some answers.
Now in most matches, it’s typical for a referee to brandish at least one yellow card within a game.
Sometimes as much as half the players on the pitch get them.
While on other occasions, a whole 90-minute game will pass without one being handed out.
But why exactly are they given out?
Well in this post I will be going through seven of the most common reasons why soccer players get booked.
1. Bad Tackle
One of the most common reasons for a referee to yellow card someone is for making a poorly timed tackle.
If a player has gone into a challenge and not got a touch of the ball, the ref may decide to book him.
With this area of the game, it all depends on how the referee views the challenge.
For instance, if they completely wipe out the opposing player, it will give the referee no reason but to get the yellow card out.
But if the player goes in with the intent to get the ball, they may decide to just give them a warning instead.
If that same player makes a similar challenge soon after, the referee is likely to yellow card them based on a totting up procedure.
2. Taking Shirt Off After Scoring A Goal
The second reason why soccer players get yellow cards is for taking their shirts off.
Something many players don’t realise until too late is that this is an offence, that will see them cautioned.
It never used to be the case, though, many years ago, as players would frequently do it when they scored crucial goals.
However, due to a change in the footballing rulebook, if a player takes their shirt off, they will be booked.
This has been in the game for a few years now. However, you will see this happen on occasion.
If, for example, a last-minute goal is scored or if someone has an underlayer on with a message, which is some of the most common reasons.
As you can expect, though, with emotions high, it does spark trouble for those who are already booked.
Because if someone is already on a yellow card, then taking their shirt off will lead to them being sent off.
An example of a game I watched where something similar happened was in the MLS.
In the video below (skip to 9:30), Christian Techera gets booked for scoring that sees him suspended for the next game.
While almost non-existent in the women’s game, dissent is a regular occurrence in the men’s game.
In the women’s footballing game, players are known for simply getting on with the game and accepting the ref’s calls.
It was something that came as a shock to me because most of the football I watch is the men’s leagues, and when it comes to them, dissent is a regular occurrence.
Now dissent is simply responding to a decision in a bad way because you felt it was unfair.
So what you will have is players swearing, getting aggressive and even being sarcastic.
I can even say that on occasion, I have gotten angry with a referee for not giving a certain decision my way, and it can happen in the spur of the moment.
So if the ref believes you are stepping out of line, they might give you a warning or even a yellow card.
Just like taking your shirt off, refs have become much firmer and tend to tolerate less dissent nowadays.
So if you react badly to a referee, it likely won’t end well, with you probably ending up in the referee’s notebook.
Taunting is where you provoke an opposing soccer player to react. It can be punished in soccer and in other sports too, such as American Football.
If a referee sees someone deliberately going out of their way to wind someone up, they may get cautioned by doing something they don’t need to do.
There isn’t anything in the rule book that says a player must be booked, so it is up to the referee’s interpretation.
So, for example, if a team is winding down the game by keeping hold of the ball, well, that is completely fine because it’s done to stop the possibility of the opposing team scoring late.
However, if you have a player who is doing pointless rainbow flicks with the sole purpose of humiliating players.
Or even finishing a goal by stopping the ball on the line and tapping it with their head over, well those are examples of unnecessary taunting.
The below video sees Neymar get booked for doing a flick over someone near the corner flag:
5. Wasting Time
Another reason why soccer players get yellow cards is for wasting time
Typically it happens when a team is currently holding onto a lead and doesn’t want the other team to score.
Therefore they attempt to run down the clock by taking as much time over everything.
Whether that be going to retrieve the football after being kicked out of play.
Or even playacting on the floor from a tackle.
Because the last thing any soccer team wants is to concede with minutes or even seconds on the clock.
Now if a team or player is found to be deliberately taking an age over things in the game,
To the point where it’s bad sportsmanship then the ref may give them a straight yellow without even a warning.
What is considering wasting time consists off:
- Players taking too long to restart play (throw-ins, goal kicks and free kicks)
- Walking off the pitch slowly instead of jogging off, for substitutions
- Kicking or throwing the ball away when its the oppositions ball
Another way soccer players may waste time is by making the most of challenges.
So if a player slightly miss times the ball, the player on the current winning side may stay down to kill the tempo and time of the game.
But since no cheating and diving is going on, players won’t be booked even if they are making the most of a challenge.
6. Fighting The Opposition
This one is a no brainer, but fighting or getting in an opponents face aggressively will lead to a yellow card, if not a red.
While soccer is a physical game, there is a code of conduct in place.
What is stated within this code of conduct is that if you strike somebody in an off the ball situation, then you will be penalised.
Now it all depends on exactly what takes place as to the consequences.
If there has been a bust-up where a player has hit someone, then a red card would be issued, as physical violence is not allowed in the game.
But if a player has got aggressive but not struck out, for instance, got in someones face, then it would be a yellow card instead.
7. Not Being 10 Metres
Last but not least, you have the 10-meter rule, which is issued at free kicks and corners.
If the defending team isn’t at least 10 meters away from the ball, then the referee will have a word with them.
At first, it’s generally a warning for not following the rules, but if they keep trying to sneak forward and gain yards, then a yellow card is the likely outcome.
This used to be quite controversial years ago, as soccer players of both sides would try and gain an advantage.
If you were caught doing so, especially if you are on the defending team, you would get a yellow card.
However, with vanishing spray being added to the game, the referee has more control, meaning players cannot cheat by moving themselves or the ball forward.
With that said, if you do get caught being less than 10 meters, a referee will not hesitate to give you a yellow card.
There you have it. If you were wondering before reading this post, why soccer players get yellow cards, well, there are seven common instances where one is issued out to a player in-game.
So, therefore, I do hope this post helps you out and if you have any questions remaining or even another scenario where players get booked that you think should be added.
Then, by all means, let me know in the comments below 🙂