Why UEFA MUST change the yellow card rule, What could be done?

Why UEFA MUST change the yellow card rule, What could be done?
Jul 5, 2016

Champions League Europa League Featured News

Suspensions are rather easy to earn these days within the footballing world, whether it’s a red card or a certain number of yellow cards earned across multiple games, these regulations have been designed in order to give a fair punishment to those who deserve it. However, not all of these different rules shine brightly with positivity in the footballing world. Changes MUST be made because of it – to make the sport a fairer game for everyone.

As of today, the current rule for the European Championships states that if a player receives two yellow cards, they are suspended for the next game they play, with a first yellow card offence wiped prior to the semi-finals. This rule also has an impact on club competitions such as the Champions League and the Europa League. From an initial perspective, you may feel that a punishment like this would actually be fair, but it is far from that. Regardless of how far a team progresses within the tournament, the player’s previous yellow card can not be wiped, remaining active until the end of the tournament.

To put this into a clearer perspective, it is possible for a player to miss the semi-final of the tournament if they are to receive a yellow card in their first game of the tournament as well as the quarter-final of the tournament. Welsh midfielder Aaron Ramsey has been forced to experience this very fate, being suspended for his country’s ‘biggest game in their history’ versus Portugal due to the two yellow cards he has received in five games.

The punitive regulation currently in place is most certainly ridiculous, considering the harsh pressure it puts on a player to try and prevent receiving two yellow cards across their tenure in the tournament. Wales will also be without left-back Ben Davies against Portugal for the same reason, with Welsh supporters begging and petitioning towards UEFA to drop their suspensions due to the intolerant rule currently in place.

In addition to this, to extend previously on a point made, it is especially straightforward to earn yourself a yellow card within the sport today. Harsh referees, cheaters, or simply, misjudging a situation, are all examples of different factors that have assisted towards receiving a yellow card before, each being for an unfair reason. Considering a yellow card can not be appealed unlike the red card, it makes life that much harder for the footballer who earns himself an unfair yellow card.

To elaborate, considering the harsh restrictions the current regulation places on football players, changes must be made to the current suspension system by UEFA in order to offer considerably fairer punishments to the appropriate player. How could these changes be made? Here are a few ideas:

Wipe a player’s yellow card after earlier stages in a competition

One way UEFA could successfully make amends to their current disciplinary guideline is by wiping any yellow cards a player receives following the end of the group stages of one of their tournaments, and, wipe any yellow cards received after the quarter-finals in club competitions. By making this change, it keeps the corrective actions in place but makes it harder for a player to earn themselves a suspension in a crucial game for their club or country.

If a player earns themselves two yellow card offences within the group stages or between the last sixteen and semi-finals of a tournament, the suspension towards them would be rightly deserved due to how close the disciplinary actions were from one another. By wiping yellow cards earlier on, and later within the tournament, it decreases the withstanding amount of pressure placed on a player to not receive a suspension and offers a fairer opportunity to punish the right players for their actions.

Only suspend a player with consecutive yellow cards

Another change UEFA could make to the current penalising system is by only ordering suspensions towards players who earn themselves yellow cards in consecutive fashion. Players such as Xabi Alonso and previously noted Aaron Ramsey have seen themselves face a suspension due to the harsh realities in place with the yellow card ruling.

Ramsey’s situation has been spoken of prior, but, Xabi Alonso is another player on a list of players who has been forced to partake in a situation similar to the one that the Welshman is facing today. Alonso was forced to miss the Champions League Final in 2014 after earning himself a yellow card against Bayern Munich – his third card following 13 games played. Following the incident, changes were made to the current stature that is present today but has proven to still not be good enough as it suspends players for unfair reasons.

If UEFA updated their current ruling and made changes to only punish those with consecutive yellow card offences, it could make the overall system much fairer to punish the right players. Regardless of the offence or when it is made, earning a yellow card a game is simply not good enough behaviour and a punishment deserves to be in place. Rather than punishing a player for two yellow cards in five games or three yellow cards in thirteen, a significant change by UEFA in the current system could enable a fairer system overall for those that go against the policy.

Change the number of yellow cards from two to three

The final change that UEFA could make to their current suspension system is adapting and changing the current rule altogether, and change the number of yellow cards that enables a suspension from two to three offences. Although this may not appear as an impactful change in comparison to the other changes that I have recommended, this change could be just as effective, if not more, in comparison to the others enlisted.

By keeping the current ruling intact on top of changing the restriction from two to three, it essentially gives players a fairer warning to not breach the new rulings. The current ruling is rather ineffective, considering the amount of pressure it places on a player each game to ensure they do not receive another booking. By increasing the ruling by one, it allows players to play a more relaxed version of football and gives them a fairer warning if they do receive two yellow cards.


The current regulations in regards to yellow cards and suspensions have most certainly been a problem for fans and players alike as many have publically displayed their anger towards the rule. It is essential for UEFA to make amends and change the current rules that are present in order to make the sport fairer for the players for the future. UEFA MUST change the rule.

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